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God  is  God:  The  Meaning  of  a Controversial 
Formula  and  the  Fundamental  Problem  of 
Speaking  About  God 

Karl  Barth  Centennial 

African  Diaspora 

Stone  Lectures 

Teaching:  A Response  to  “Faith  in  Search 
of  Understanding” 

Inaugural  Address 

Expanding  and  Enhancing  the  Moral 
Communities:  The  Task  of  Christian 
Social  Ethics 

Inaugural  Address 

The  Theology  of  Nationalism  of 
Emanuel  Hirsch 

Eberhard  Busch 
Albert  J.  Raboteau 

Freda  A.  Gardner 

Peter  J.  Paris 
Jean -Loup  Seban 


NEW  SERIES  1986 


Thomas  W.  Gillespie 

James  I.  McCord 



President  Emeritus 

David  B.  Watermulder,  President  Johannes  R.  Krahmer,  Vice-President 

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William  E.  Lawder,  Treasurer 

James  F.  Anderson 

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Clifford  G.  Pollock 

Rosemary  H.  Evans 

Norman  D.  Pott 

Milton  A.  Galamison 

William  H.  Scheide 

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Francisco  O.  Garcia-Treto 

Frederick  B.  Speakman 

Helen  H.  Gemmill 

John  Templeton 

C.  Thomas  Hilton 

William  P.  Thompson 

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Karen  L.  Turner 

Bryant  M.  Kirkland 

Jeffrey  R.  Wampler 

Henry  Luce  III 

Samuel  G.  Warr 

Donald  C.  McFerren 

Charles  Wright 

James  A.  Mitcham,  Jr. 


Ralph  M.  Wyman 

Clem  E.  Bininger 

Harry  G.  Kuch 

J.  Douglas  Brown 

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John  Grier  Buchanan 

John  S.  Linen 

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The  Princeton  Seminary  Bulletin 


Ronald  C.  White,  Jr.,  Editor  Daniel  L.  Migliore,  Book  Review  Editor 

Lynn  S.  Halverson,  Assistant  to  the  Editor 


God  is  God:  The  Meaning  of  a Controversial 
Formula  and  the  Fundamental  Problem  ot 

Speaking  About  God 

Eberhard  Busch 


Karl  Barth  Centennial 

African  Diaspora 

Albert  J.  Raboteau 

1 14 

Stone  Lectures 

Teaching:  A Response  to  “Faith  in  Search 

of  Understanding” 

Freda  A.  Gardner 


Inaugural  Address 

Expanding  and  Enhancing  the  Moral 

Communities:  The  Task  of  Christian 
Social  Ethics 

Peter  J.  Paris 


Inaugural  Address 

The  Theology  of  Nationalism  of  Emanuel  Hirsch 

Jean -Loup  Seba  n 


Inaugural  Address 

Book  Reviews 

Review  Article:  Rejoice  in  the  Lord,  edited  by  Erik  Routley 

David  A.  Weadon 

1 77 

The  New  Jerusalem  Bible,  edited  by  Henry  Wansbrough 

Bruce  M.  Metzger 

1 87 

The  Book  of  Job,  by  Norman  C.  Habel 

J.  J.  M.  Roberts 


A History  of  Prophecy  in  Israel,  by  Joseph  Blenkinsopp 

The  Old  Testament  Canon  of  the  New  Testament  Church  and  its 

C.  L.  Seow 


Background  in  Early  Judaism,  by  Roger  Beckwith 
The  Gospel  According  to  Luke  X-XXIV:  A New  Translation  with 

Bruce  M.  Metzger 


Introduction  and  Commentary,  by  Joseph  A.  Fitzmyer,  S.J. 

Paul  F.  Feiler 


The  Good  News  According  to  Luke,  by  Eduard  Schweizer 
Presbyterian  Creeds.  A Guide  to  the  Book  of  Confessions,  by  Jack 

John  T.  Carroll 



Arthur  C.  Cochrane 



Philosophy  for  Understanding  Theology,  by  Diogenes  Allen 

C.  S.  Lewis’s  Case  for  the  Christian  Faith,  by  Richard  L.  Purtill; 
and  C.  S.  Lewis  and  the  Search  for  Rational  Religion,  by  John 

Religion  in  the  Secular  City:  Toward  a Postmodern  Theology,  by 
Harvey  Cox 

Is  Human  Forgiveness  Possible:  A Pastoral  Care  Perspective,  by 
John  Patton 

Blessed  Be  the  Bond:  Christian  Perspectives  on  Marriage  and 
Family,  by  William  Johnson  Everett 

Pastoral  Care  With  Children  in  Crisis,  by  Andrew  D.  Lester 
The  Oxford  Book  of  Prayer,  by  George  Appleton 
Worshipful  Preaching,  by  Gerard  S.  Sloyan 

Harold  P.  Nebelsic!{ 

Peter  W.  Macky 

Donald  H.  Liebert 

James  N.  Lapsley 

Charles  W.  Stewart 
Brian  H.  Childs 
Donald  Macleod 
Donald  Macleod 










The  Bulletin  is  published  three  times  annually  by  the  Theological  Seminary 
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God  is  God:  The  Mean- 
ing of  a Controversial 
Formula  and  the  Funda- 
mental Problem  of  Speak- 
ing About  God* 

by  Eberhard  Busch 

Karl  Barth 

In  1946  Karl  Barth  met  several 
Communist  leaders  in  East  Berlin, 
among  them  Walter  Ulbricht  and 
Wilhelm  Pieck.  They  did  not  want 
this  theologian,  who  was  known  to 
be  a prominent  anti-fascist,  to  think 
of  them  as  staunchly  anti-Christian. 
So  they  told  him  that  “what  Ger- 
many needs  today  is  that  people 
would  again  respect  the  Ten  Com- 
mandments,” to  which  the  guest  re- 
plied: “Yes,  particularly  the  first 
Commandment.”  (1  am  the  Lord, 
your  God,  you  are  to  have  no  other 
gods  before  me.)  That  was  a telling 
moment,  because  it  gives  expression 
to  what  one  may  call  a basic  theme  of 
Barth’s  theology:  “particularly  the 
first  commandment.”' 


The  most  concentrated  form  of 
that  basic  theme  is  a formula  which 
I now  would  like  to  interpret,  a for- 

* A lecture,  held  on  October  28,  1985,  in 
Princeton  Theological  Seminary. 

1 According  to  a tape  from  an  interview, 
recorded  on  March  3,  1964,  till  now  unpub- 

Dr.  Eberhard  Busch,  former  assistant 
and  secretary  to  Karl  Barth,  presented  two 
lectures  at  Princeton  Seminary  as  part  of 
the  centennial  celebration  of  Barth’s  birth 
in  1886.  His  boo!{,  Karl  Barth,  His  Lite 
from  Letters  and  Autobiographical 
Texts,  has  received  wide  acclaim.  For 
many  years  a Reformed  pastor  of  the  village 
church  in  Uerkheim,  Switzerland,  in  the 
fall  of  i()86  he  becomes  professor  of  Re- 
formed theology  at  the  University  of  Got- 
tingen. He  has  served  as  guest  professor  of 
church  history  at  the  University  of  Tubin- 
gen, and  earned  his  doctor  of  theology  de- 
gree at  the  University  of  Basel  in  7977. 


mula  which  is  associated  in  the  his- 
tory of  theology  with  the  name  of 
Karl  Barth  in  an  almost  fateful  way. 
I speak  of  the  sentence  “God  is 
God.”  It  appears  for  the  first  time  in 
a sermon  of  March  1916,  where 
Barth  said,  to  have  faith,  to  believe 
means  “to  acknowledge  that  God  is 
God.”2  And  Barth  related  it  even 
then  to  the  programmatic  thesis  that 
the  God  the  church  reveres  far  and 
wide  is  no  God  at  all.  The  issue, 
therefore,  is  that  we  “begin  com- 
pletely anew  to  acknowledge  God  as 
God ,”3  Since  then,  Barth  has  often 
repeated  and  varied  the  substance  of 
this  formula,  especially  in  his  first 
two  major  books,  the  two  interpre- 
tations of  Romans  of  1919  and  1922, 
which — even  though  they  have  the 
same  title — are  quite  different  in 

2 Sermon  on  Gen.  15:6.  Das  Eine  Notwen- 
dige.  In:  Die  XX.  Christliche  Studenten- 
Konferenz.  Aarau  1916.  Den  13.  bis  15. 
Marz,  Bern  1916,  p.  1 1. 

* Das  Wort  Gottes  und  die  Theologie.  Ge- 
sammelte  Vortrage  (1),  Munich,  1924,  p.  14 
ss.The  word  of  God  and  the  word  of  man. 
Transl.  by  Douglas  Horton,  London  1928, 
p.  24. 



content.  The  formula  may  be  seen  as 
an  exposition  of  that  programmatic 

It  is  true  that,  if  one  were  to  be  ut- 
terly precise,  the  formula  makes  up 
the  core  of  only  the  early  theology  of 
Barth.  There  are  those  who  believe 
that  to  his  very  end  Barth  repeated 
only  “God  is  God.”  But,  as  time 
went  on,  another  aspect  is  claimed  to 
have  been  more  characteristic  of  his 
theology,  namely  its  christocentrism , 
which  tended  to  eclipse  the  former 
dimension.  That  view  is  not  alto- 
gether false.  Yet  a theology  which 
concentrates  on  the  figure  of  Jesus 
Christ  moves  quite  clearly  around 
another  basic  affirmation,  namely 
that  “ God  became  flesh,  became  hu- 
man." Indeed,  that  affirmation  be- 
came central  for  Barth  and  it  ap- 
peared as  if  he  were  moving  away 
from  his  earlier  view  which  is  ex- 
pressed in  the  sentence  “God  is 
God.”  Therefore,  important  ques- 
tions are  raised  about  Barth’s  theol- 
ogy. How,  in  terms  of  substance,  are 
these  two  formulae  related  one  to  the 
other,  and,  historically,  to  what  ex- 
tent does  Barth’s  later,  christocentric 
theology  represent  a break  with  his 
earlier  theology?  In  what  way  did 
his  basic  view  undergo  the  change 
which  seems  to  be  signalled  by  the 
later,  central  affirmation? 

Barth’s  christocentric  theology 
could  indeed  leave  the  impression 
that  he  finally  gave  in  to  the  massive 
critique  of  his  early  theology,  partic- 
ularly of  its  basic  formula  “God  is 
God.”  That  critique  came  from  all 
kinds  of  theological  positions;  it  was 
almost  in  unison.  Let  me  cite  a few 
instances:  Barth  is  interested  only  in 
the  divinity  of  God  and  knows  only 
of  God’s  transcendence  but  not 

God’s  immanence.  Barth  does  not 
know  the  “living  God,”  living  in  his- 
tory; he  is  ignorant  of  “God’s  pres- 
ence in  time,”  ignorant  also  of  the 
“God  of  merciful  love.”  Barth  does 
not  know  “Christology.”  “There  is 
never  a mixing  of  God  and  human- 
kind. The  unknown  does  not  be- 
come history.”4  “Barth  proclaims  the 
God  far  away,  we,  however,  believe 
in  the  God  close  at  hand.”5  The  Lu- 
theran Paul  Althaus  wrote  that 
Barth  substituted  the  revealed  God, 
deus  revelatus , by  a non  revealed  God, 
deus  absconditus,  substituted  the 
“theology  of  revelation”  by  a “theol- 
ogy of  the  unknown  God.”6 

One  may  indeed  reinforce  the 
impression  that  Barth,  as  a result  of 
critiques  such  as  these,  overcame  his 
earlier  “God  is  God”  theology  with 
his  later  christocentric  theology  of 
revelation  by  citing  comments  he 
made  himself  in  1956,  in  his  address 
“The  Humanity  of  God.”  He  con- 
cedes that  his  early  theology  was  a 
corrective  of  Schleiermacher’s  theol- 
ogy, in  which  “at  God’s  expense  hu- 
manity was  raised  up  high”7  but  still 
the  critique  of  his  early  position  was 
“not  without  foundation.  It  seemed 
as  if  it  aimed  to  turn  Schleiermacher 
on  his  head  for  a change,  to  raise  God 
up  high  at  the  expense  of  humanity."* 

4 Hans  Wilhelm  Schmidt,  Zeit  und  Ewig- 
keit,  Die  letzten  Voraussetzungen  der  dialek, - 
tischen  Theologie,  ( iutersloh  1927,  p.  32SS. 

5 Bernhard  Domes,  Der  feme  und  der  nahe 
Gott.  Eine  Auseinandersetzung  mit  der  Theo- 
logie  Karl  Barths,  1927,  p.  37. 

6 According  to  H.  W.  Schmidt,  p.  32. 

1 Karl  Barth,  Die  Menschhchkeit  Gottes. 
Theologische  Studien  48,  Zollikon-Ziirich, 
1956,  p.  5.  The  humanity  of  God.  In:  Karl 
Barth:  The  humanity  of  God.  Transl.  by 
John  Newton,  Richmond,  Va.,  i960,  p.  37. 

8 Ibid.,  p.  8 - p.  43. 



And  Barth  then  placed  his  christo- 
centric  understanding  over  against 
that  view  by  saying  that  the  issue  was 
to  understand  God  as  the  God  of  hu- 
mans.9 Did  he  not  indeed  justify  the 
critics  of  those  earlier  years  who  had 
attacked  his  theology  and  its  basic 
theme  that  “God  is  God”?  And  did 
he  not  also,  therefore,  change  his 
agenda,  in  their  view  of  it,  to  speak- 
ing of  the  “God  close  at  hand”? 

But  Barth  had  added  a warning  in 
his  retraction  of  1956  which,  in  the 
midst  of  the  positive  reception  given 
to  the  address,  was  often  ignored. 
“Those  to  whom  it  still  has  not  be- 
come utterly  clear  that  God  is  God 
will  certainly  not  come  to  under- 
stand either  what  must  be  pro- 
claimed now  as  the  true  word  of  the 
humanity  of  God.”10  Elsewhere 
Barth  said,  referring  to  his  late  the- 
ology, that  “everything^.  J of  his  early 
work  is  contained  in  what  there  is 
now.  11 

It  is  that  comment  which  leads  me 
to  the  thesis  which  I shall  seek  to 
demonstrate  through  an  interpreta- 
tion of  the  formula  “God  is  God”: 
The  theological  principle  “God  is 
God”  not  only  did  NOT  exclude  the 
later  christocentric  theology  but  was 
and  remained  its  premise , a premise 
which  neither  dropped  nor  even  cor- 
rected the  basic  structure  of  that 
principle.  That  theology  has  to  think 
christocentrically  is  a necessity  that 
cannot  be  detached  from  the  truth  of 
the  sentence  that  God  is  God  nor  can 
that  necessity  be  understood  without 

9 Ibid.,  p.  10  ss.  - p.  45. 

Ibid.,  p.  7 - p.  42. 

" “Der  Gotze  wackelt":  Zeit\ntische  Auf- 
sdtze,  Reden  und  Bnefe  von  1930  bis  i960 , ed. 

by  Karl  Kupisch,  Berlin,  1961,  p.  1 13. 

Before  I deal  more  directly  with 
the  formula,  I need  to  make  a pre- 
liminary observation.  It  seems  prob- 
able that  Barth  did  not  invent  that 
phrase  in  1916  but  that  he  took  it 
over  from  the  religious  socialism  of 
Ragaz  and  Kutter  to  which  he  had  a 
good  deal  of  affinity  at  the  time. 
There  might  even  be  a kind  of  sub- 
terranean connection  to  the  Dadaists 
who,  in  the  intellectually  explosive 
Zurich  of  1916,  were  pounding  away 
at  reality  with  their  secret  nonsense 
word-games,  such  as  “Dada  is 
Dada”  in  order  to  discern  new  rela- 
tions in  reality.  Ragaz  had  connec- 
tions to  these  Dadaists.12  I have  not 
yet  found  any  use  of  the  formula 
“God  is  God”  in  Ragaz'3  and  Kutter 
that  predates  Barth’s  use  of  it  in 
1916,  but  there  are  formulations 
which  anticipate  it.  In  the  context  of 
religious-socialism,  this  formula  is  to 
be  read  as  an  elliptical  sentence, 
which  tries  to  declare  that  God  is — a 
living — God!  That  is  to  say,  God  is 
new  in  that  sense  of  being  different 
in  kind  from  the  existing  and  stati- 
cally encrusted  reality  and  its  dead 
religion;  God  is  new  since  it  is  God 
who  sets  everything  in  motion.  And 
it  seems  that  this  is  how  Barth  him- 
self understood  the  formula  “God  is 
God”  especially  in  the  first  edition  of 
Romans.'*  In  the  second  edition,  the 
formula  has  a more  radical  meaning: 
God  is  not  only  different  in  hind  but 
is,  in  fact,  different , not  only  in  rela- 

12  Cf.  Markus  Mattmiiller,  Leonhard  Ra- 
gaz und  der  religiose  Sozialismus.  Eine  Biogra- 
phic, Band  II,  Zurich,  1968,  p.  27. 

Leonhard  Ragaz,  Weltreich,  Religion 
und  Gottesherrschaft.  Erster  Band,  Erlen- 
bach-Ziirich,  1922,  p.  151. 

14  Karl  Barth,  Der  Romerbrief,  Bern,  1919, 
PP-  47,  79,  97- 



tion  to  that  static,  but  also  to  the  dy- 
namic reality,  the  reality  set  in  mo- 
tion by  God.  The  formula  has  no 
longer  the  extended  meaning  given  a 
moment  ago  but  it  becomes  a com- 
plete sentence,  precisely  in  its  stark- 
ness: “God  is  God.” 

One  more  comment.  There  was  a 
whole  Hood  of  misunderstanding 
following  Barth’s  formula.  The  sen- 
tence neither  says  nor  is  meant  to  de- 
clare that  “ God  is  everything.”  It  is 
not  only  that  Barth  expressly  contra- 
dicted such  an  interpretation,'5  it  is 
also  that  such  a meaning  blocks  out 
what  we  now  really  have  to  under- 
stand. The  sentence  “God  is  every- 
thing” is  a basic  assertion  of  the  mys- 
ticism which,  in  its  strict  form, 
teaches  the  annihilation  of  the  hu- 
man as  the  path  towards  self-identi- 
fication with  the  divine  and  it  does 
that  in  a manner  which  always 
threatens  to  revert  dialectically  into 
the  annihilation  of  the  divine.  Myst- 
cism  is  the  neighbor  of  atheism,  as 
Barth  put  it.1'1  But  that  means  if  God 
is  everything  then  God  is  not  God.  At 
issue,  therefore,  right  from  the  be- 
ginning is  also  the  space  appropriate 
for  humanity  when  one  declares 
God  is  God  and,  for  that  very  reason, 
not  everything. 


On,  then,  to  the  formula.  When 
Barth  used  it  he  often  gave  it  this  ac- 
cent: “God  is  God,”  thereby  creating 
an  imbalance  in  the  formula.  The 

’’  Der  Romerbrief  (second  edition),  Mu- 
nich, 1922,31923  ( = Romerbrief),  p- 196.  - The 
Epistle  to  the  Romans.  Transl.  by  Edwyn  C. 
Hoskyns,  London,  1933,  (=  Romans),  p. 

"6  Kirchliche  Dogmatic  ( = KD)  I/2,  p.  84. 
223.  Church  Dogmatics  ( = CD)  I/2,  p.  o. 

last  word  took  on  the  sense  of  some- 
thing unexpected.  In  1927  he  said 
that  the  sentence  was  by  no  means  an 
equation  that  could  be  taken  for 
granted  (adding,  by  the  way,  that  all 
of  the  theology  is  built  upon  it).'7  An 
equation!  Obviously  in  the  sense  of 
the  simplest  mathematical  equation 
in  which  every  factor  is  equal  to  it- 
self, “God  equals  God”  says  some- 
thing as  elementary  as  the  statement 
“A  equals  A.”  It  even  intends  to  as- 
sist in  making  speaking  of  God  very 
much  a matter  of  course  here  in  this 
world,  of  all  things  the  most  to  be 
taken  for  granted.  But  this  is  some- 
thing in  the  future.  For  in  the  pres- 
ent that  equation  is  not  at  all  a mat- 
ter of  course.  One  reason  why  that  is 
so  is  because  “God”  is  an  all-purpose 
term  by  which  people  mean  every- 
thing imaginable.  So  that  whenever 
it  is  not  obvious  that  our  speaking  of 
God  is  not  literally  “self’  evident, 
the  formula  God  is  God  is  meant  to 
help  it  become  obvious.  The  equa- 
tion, therefore,  is  not  self-evident  be- 
cause it  implies  the  critical  thesis  that 
our  speaking  of  God  does  not  auto- 
matically speak  of  God. 

It  is  already  clear  what  Barth’s  cri- 
tique does  not  say,  namely,  that  there 
is  not  enough  talk  of  God  in  the 
church  and  too  much  of  humanity. 
For,  the  critique  could  then  be  met 
by  simply  talking  more  about  God 
which,  were  it  to  become  too  pre- 
dominant, would  be  balanced  by  an 
increased  attention  to  us  human 
beings.  That  was  how  Barth’s  cri- 
tique was  often  understood;  it 
turned  out  to  be  a thorough  misun- 

17  Die  chnstliche  Dogma  tip  im  Entwurf.  Die 
Lehre  vom  l Voile  Gottes:  Prolegomena  zur 
chnsthchen  Dogmatic,  Munich,  1927,  new 
edition  1982  Zurich,  p.  290. 



derstanding.  His  critique  aims  quite 
specifically  at  the  question  as  to 
whether  that  which  we  call  God, 
whenever  we  speak  of  it,  is  God.  And 
that  makes  it  clear  also  that  it  was 
not  the  intent  of  the  formula  to  teach 
merely  that  God  was  transcendent. 
It  was  rather  to  show  that  if  what  we 
call  “God”  is  in  fact  not  God  then  we 
can  ascribe  transcendence  to  it  and 
bow  before  it  with  a humble  “soli 
deo  gloria”  (to  God  alone  be  glory) 
but  it  still  would  not  alter  at  all  tbe 
fact  that  the  revered  entity  is  not 
God.  In  Barth  s own  words:  even  “by 
placing  [this]  God  on  the  throne  of 
the  world,  we  enthrone  in  him  only 
ourselves.”'8  And  that  was,  in  fact, 
the  thesis  Barth  was  presenting  at 
that  time:  this  is  what  is  going  on  in 
the  church.  “God  is  not  acknowl- 
edged as  God.  That  which  is  called 
God  is  in  truth  humanity  itself  We 
serve  a non-god.”'9  Note  the  word 
“we.”  It  denotes  solidarity  with  the 
church  under  critique. 

In  what  way  is  that  which  we  call 
“God”  to  be  termed  a non-god?  One 
way  in  which  that  can  be  explained 
is  this:  the  sentence  “God  is  God”  is 
so  unprotected  that  it  seems  to  cry 
out  for  further,  explanatory  defini- 
tions. Barth’s  critics  readily  supplied 
those.  They  said,  lor  example:  God 
is — love.  One  can  augment  that  def- 
inition to  one’s  content  with  biblical 
or  other  materials:  God  is  the  depth 
of  being , God  is  masculine  or  femi- 
nine, and  so  on.  Barth’s  formula  does 
not  exclude  such  definitions  as  such. 
But  what  his  critics  overlooked  was 
that  the  sentence  “God  is  God”  in  its 
turn  raised  a fundamentally  critical 

,8  Romerbrief  p.  20.  - Romans,  p.  44. 

■9  Ibid. 

question  in  regard  to  all  such  defini- 
tions. Is  God,  instead  of  being  “de- 
fined,” in  fact  not  rather  replaced  in 
them  by  something  known  to  us  al- 
ready, something  that  makes  sense 
and  is  important  to  us?  So  we  go  on 
saying  “God”  but  really  do  we  not 
mean  the  conceptual  idol  we  have 
erected,  really,  in  other  words,  mean 
us  humans,  so  that  thereby  the  sig- 
nificance of  the  word  “God”  is  inev- 
itably reduced  to  a legitimating 
function  for  our  “concerns”?  The 
sentence  “God  is  God”  does  indeed 
apply  the  first  commandment  to  the- 
ological thought.  And  it  becomes 
also  clear  now  that  Barth’s  christo- 
centric  turn  to  the  knowledge  of 
“God  become  human”  cannot  have 
meant  that  the  sentence  “God  is 
God”  was  superceded  by  replacing 
the  last  word  “God”  with  some  en- 
tity already  known  to  us.  For  what 
characterized  the  formula  was  pre- 
cisely that  wherever  an  entity  called 
“God,”  no  matter  how  it  was  pre- 
supposed or  ascertained,  was  made 
equal  to  a known  factor  in  the  man- 
ner of  an  equation,  Barth  would  in- 
troduce an  “unknown”  factor  into 
the  equation  by  saying  “God  is  God.” 
Another  somewhat  different 
thought  makes  the  critical  force  of 
the  sentence  “God  is  God”  even 
more  apparent.  In  an  address  in  1922 
Barth  proposed  the  following  theses 
which  sound  like  an  interpretation 
of  that  sentence.  “As  theologians  we 
have  to  speak  of  God”  but  “we  are 
human  beings  and  cannot  speak  of 
God.”20  That  we  have  to  do  so  is 
what  people  expect  of  theologians 

10  Das  Wort  Gottes  (cf.  footnote  3),  p.  158.  - 
The  word  of  God,  p.  186.  Cf.  Peter  Winzeler, 
Widerstehende  Theologie.  Karl  Barth  1920-35, 
Stuttgart,  1982,  p.  187  ss. 



who,  whatever  it  is  they  do  say  about 
everything  else,  also  want  to  utter  a 
so-called  “final"  word  about  “God," 
a word  which  throws  light  on  all  else 
that  was  said.  And  when  we,  as  the- 
ologians, believe  that  we  can  say  that 
word,  we  shall  hardly  add  anything 
new  to  reality  as  it  is.  We  shall  rather 
confirm  it  only  in  one  way  or  an- 
other and  perhaps  give  it  a little 
more  dignity.  And  even  if  that  is  not 
what  we  want,  our  belief  alone  that 
we  do  know  what  we  mean  when  we 
say  “God”  hands  God  over  into  our 
disposition  so  that  God  is  basically 
put  on  the  same  level  with  us  and  all 
other  things.  And,  as  Barth  went  on 
to  say  in  his  commentary  on  Ro- 
mans, “it  is  we  who  secretly  are  the 
dominant  ones  in  that  relation.”21 
And  that  means  that  the  “God”  of 
whom  we  talk  is  in  fact  only  a part  of 
present  reality,  of  ourselves.  The 
sentence  “God  is  God”  and  its  sequel 
“we  are  not  able , therefore,  to  speak 
of  God”  are  a potentially  powerful 
critique  of  the  ideology  underneath 
that  theology  and  church  where 
speaking  of  God  only  legitimates 
present  reality  or  supplies  it  with  an 
ideological  superstructure. 

But  this  is  in  essence  Barth’s  in- 
sight that,  as  already  stated,  wher- 
ever God  is  not  “acknowledged  as 
God”  that  which  “is  called  God”  is  a 
non-god.  And  more,  whatever  we 
humans  want  and  can  call  God  on 
our  own  is  “in  truth  the  human  it- 
self,”22 for  God  is  not  acknowledged 
as  God  in  it.  It  is  in  this  context  that 
Barth  affirmed  Feuerbach’s  thesis 
that  religion  has  to  do  with  human 
projections  only.  Barth’s  further 

21  Rdmerbnef,  p.  19s.  - Romans , p.  44. 

22  Ibid.,  p.  20.  - p.  44. 

comment  that  Feuerbach  is  shown  to 
be  right  in  a heightened  manner  by 
the  sentence25  “God  is  God”  indi- 
cates that  it  is  not  God  who  is  denied 
by  this  critical  thesis  but  that  it  ac- 
tually provides  the  critical  force  with 
which  to  deny  that  these  human  pro- 
jections are  God.  That  the  “God”  of 
these  projections  must  not  be  called 
God  once  again  receives  forceful 
stringency  only  from  the  fact  that 
God  is  God.  But  that  God  is  God  can 
become  valid  only  if  God  is  not 
turned  into  an  object  our  uderstand- 
mg  has  at  its  disposal.  Barth  admin- 
istered a Kantian  correction  to 
Feuerbach’s  thesis  by  saying  “in 
knowing  a thing,  we  know  it  as  a 
thing , that  is,  as  something  rela- 
tive.”24 For  “we  do  not  recognize 
anything  specific  about  an  object 
without  some  prior  knowledge  in 
which  the  concept  of  the  particular 
characteristic  we  recognize  is  given 
to  us.  Consequently,  wherever  God 
is  an  object  in  this  world  there  will 
also  be  no  statements  about  God  that 
do  not  derive  from  this  dominating 
prior  knowledge."  And  that  means 
“that,  obviously,  God  cannot  be 

Barth  criticized  Schleiermacher’s 
understanding  of  religion  in  partic- 
ular on  the  basis  of  this  position.  Re- 
ligion in  that  understanding  was 
“contemplation”  and  the  sense  of 
“being  grasped.”26  Barth  did  not 

2J  Ibid.,  p.  218.  - p.  236. 

24  Ibid.,  p.  294.  - p.  310. 

25  Ibid.,  p.  56.  - p.  82. 

26  In  this  way  understood  the  young  Karl 
Barth — with  full  agreement — Friedrich 
Schleiermacher  in  his  article:  Der  chnstliche 
Glaube  und  die  Geschichte.  In:  Schweize- 
rische  Theologische  Zeitschrift,  29.  Jg.,  Zu- 
rich, 1912,  p.  57. 



criticize  that  sense  of  being  grasped 
as  being  without  an  object  but  that  it 
knew  the  object  only  as  something 
that  was  presupposed  in  the  process 
right  from  the  start.  It  is  that  kind  of 
understanding  which  Barth  opposes 
with  the  concept  of  God  as  being 
non-contemplative,  beyond  contem- 
plation, a concept  which  signifies 
that  in  regard  to  “every  stance  which 
humans  take  towards  God,  God  is 
something  other,  unique,  special, 
new.”27  God  is  God\  But  that  is  ex- 
actly what  we  cannot  acknowledge 
without  rigorously  adhering  to  the 
first  commandment  and  applying 
the  permanent  and  critical  distinc- 
tion between  God  and  that  which, 
though  “being  called  God,”  is  in 
truth  “non-God.”  The  equation 
“God  is  God”  seeks  initially  to  avoid 
the  equating  of  God  and  our  con- 
cepts of  God. 


In  taking  our  next  step  I want  to 
emphasize  that  the  sentence  “God  is 
God”  is  not  merely  one  more  defini- 
tion next  to  others,  such  as  God  is 
love,  etc.  Rather,  the  sentence  put 
into  the  place  of  such  definitions  is 
one  which  is  no  definition  at  all.  The 
sentence  is  not  only  a formal  equa- 
tion but,  in  terms  of  its  content,  also 
a tautology,  a circular  argument.  It  is 
a definition  in  which  the  concept 
that  is  to  be  defined  is  a part  of  the 
very  definition  itself  so  that  what  is 
to  be  defined  is  defined  by  itself. 
That  is  to  say  that  the  sentence  is  an 
explanation  that  does  not  explain 
anything;  it  is  an  explanation  that 
works  By  refusing  to  explain.  The 
word  “God”  is  defined  here  in  that  it 

27  Romerbnef , p.  67  - Romans,  p.  92. 

is  not  defined;  yes,  it  is  defined  pre- 
cisely as  being  undefinable\  And  that 
is  why  the  objectionable  sentence  of 
Barth  is  very  consistent:  “God!  We 
do  not  know  what  we  say  when  we 
speak  it.  Those  who  believe  know 
that  we  do  not  know  it.”28  They 
know  that  God  is  God,  namely  that 
over  against  all  human  concepts  of 
God,  God  is  “the  wholly  other,”  be- 
yond contemplation.  God  is  God 
means:  God  is  unknown,  hidden , 
deus  absconditus. 

But  that  does  not  mean,  as  is  to  be 
shown  later,  that  God  is  never  re- 
vealed as  God.  What  it  does  mean, 
however,  is  that  even  in  becoming 
manifest  to  us  God  remains  in  a 
sense  an  irrevocably  hidden  God  in 
that  God  remains  God  irrevocably, 
remains  the  subject  which  never  be- 
comes the  object  of  human  under- 
standing and  its  disposition.  But 
does  Ludwig  Wittgenstein’s  asser- 
tion then  not  become  the  last  thing 
we  can  say  in  theology,  namely,  “you 
should  remain  silent  about  the 
things  that  you  cannot  speak 
about”?29  One  is  tempted  to  extend 
the  question  by  pointing  to  Socrates’ 
sentence  “quae  supra  nos,  nihil  ad 
nos”  (what  lies  beyond  us  is  of  no 
concern  to  us), 30  a sentence  which  is 
like  Barth’s  formula  in  several  ways 
and  which  played  a certain  role  in 
Luther’s  theology.  For  Luther  that 
which  lies  beyond  us  is  precisely  the 
deus  absconditus,  the  “hidden  God” 

a8  Ibid.,  18.  - p.  42. 

2,1  P.  Winzeler,  op.  cit.,  p.  188. 

30  Cf.  Eberhard  Jungel,  Quae  supra  nos, 
nihil  ad  nos.  Eine  Kurzformel  der  Lehre  vom 
verborgenen  Gott — im  Anschluss  an  Luther  m- 
terpretiert,  in:  E.  Jungel ,Entsprechungen:  Gott 
— Wahrheit — Mensch.  Theologische  Erorte- 
rungen,  Munich,  1908,  pp.  202-251. 



who  remained  in  a certain  sense 
even  for  Luther  irrevocably  and  ab- 
solutely hidden.  And  that  God 
should  indeed  be  of  no  concern  to  us, 
Luther  said,  adding  that  we  should 
on  the  one  hand  turn  towards  the 
visible  world  “as  if  there  were  no 
God"5'  and  on  the  other,  let  Christ 
be  sufficient  for  us  as  the  “revealed 
God.”  The  basic  criticism  which 
Barth  made  of  Luther  was  perhaps 
that  Luther  took  that  step  with  un- 
due haste. 

According  to  Barth,  that  which  is 
beyond  us  is  in  a very  specific  way 
very  much  of  concern  to  us  (insofar 
as  it  is  about  the  God  who  is,  indeed, 
hidden  to  us).  More  precisely,  we 
would  not  speak  about  that  to-us- 
unknown  God  if  that  God  were  not 
already  of  concern  to  us.  And  that 
God  is  of  concern  to  us  precisely  be- 
cause the  one  we  are  dealing  with  in 
the  insight  that  God  is  God,  the  God 
who  is  inaccessible  to  us,  is  no  longer 
a non-god  but  is  indeed  God.  The 
formula  is  not  a statement  of  a gen- 
eral agnosticism  from  which  one 
might  conclude  that  we  might  as 
well  turn  away  from  what  we  cannot 
know  and  be  satisfied  with  what  we 
can  recognize  and  comprehend. 
That  seems  to  be  what  Luther  did. 
Barth  declared  in  his  commentary 
on  Romans  that  “God  is  known  as 
the  unknown  God,”32  thereby  op- 
posing that  conclusion.  But  this  must 
not  be  taken  to  mean  that  as  we 
come  to  recognize  God,  the  un- 
knowability  of  God  is  behind  us. 
Rather,  it  is  precisely  in  acknowledg- 
ing God’s  unknowability  that  we  are 
already  dealing  with  God  in  recog- 

31  Ibid.,  p.  251. 

32  Romerbrief,  p.  65.  - Romans , p.  91 . 

nition.  The  reply  to  be  given  to  Witt- 
genstein's sentence,  if  it  is  applied  to 
our  knowledge  of  God,  is  in  pointed 
form  something  like  this:  In  know- 
ing that  we  cannot  speak  of  God  we 
already  speaf(  of  God. 

Now  this  may  sound  like  a plain 
paradoxical  game  of  words  or  even 
like  a new  attempt  to  capture  God  in 
our  conceptuality  by  means  of  fur- 
ther definition.  But  we  need  to  make 
plain  what  had  been  quietly  presup- 
posed all  along.  Barth  puts  forth  the 
sentence  “God  is  God”  in  the  convic- 
tion that  as  such  it  has  revelational 
quality,  that  it  was  not  once  again  a 
human  proposition  but  the  acknowl- 
edgment of  an  actual  divine  position 
over  against  all  human  propositions. 
We  recall  Barth’s  statement  that 
“those  who  believe  know  that  we  do 
not  know”  what  God  means.  Barth, 
in  another  statement,  opposes  what 
we  call  God  but  which  is  not  God. 
He  says,  “as  God , God  is  the  new ,”33 
which  means  that  since  the  new  does 
not  yet  become  manifest  in  anything 
we  humans  recognize  and  under- 
stand on  our  own,  it  is  truly  “new." 
It  could  not  be  this  new  thing  were  it 
regarded  yet  again  as  something 
proposed  by  human  concepts.  Its 
newness  resides  in  the  very  fact  that 
the  truth  positioned  over  against 
everything  else  is  that  God  is  God. 
Only  here  does  it  become  evident 
that  all  human  projections  called 
“God”  are  non-gods.  On  this  basis 
alone  does  it  become  plain  that 
God’s  hiddenness  does  not  result  at 
all  from  human  weakness  in  com- 

33  Ibid.,  p.  307.  - p.  323.  Cf.  “Unterricht  in 
der  christlichen  Religion.”  Erster  Band:  Prole- 
gomena 1924,  Zurich,  1985,  p.  164;  and:  Die 
chnsthche  Dogmatik  im  Entwurf. \ p.  290  s. 



prehension;  such  a view  would  allow 
the  conclusion  that  humans  under- 
stand God  only  incompletely , which 
could  imply  that  they  can  grasp  God 
partially.  God’s  hiddenness  arises 
from  God’s  uniqueness  itself. 

I wish  to  make  my  point  more 
concrete  and  indicate  something 
which  to  my  wonderment  all  those 
critics  of  Karl  Barth  just  plain  over- 
looked. This  sentence  “God  is  God” 
is  nothing  other  than  a direct  refor- 
mulation of  the  way  God’s  name  is 
described  in  Exodus  3:14:  “I  am  who 
1 am.”  Barth  himself  has  pointed  to 
that  connection.34  It  is  quite  clear  in 
Exodus  3 : 1 q35  that  God’s  hiddenness 
is  not  to  be  confused  with  God’s 
mere  transcendence.  Yahweh  gives 
Israel  his  name  and,  in  so  doing,  is 
made  manifest  but  in  the  manner  of  a 
refusal  to  disclose  the  name.36  It  fol- 
lows that  Israel  does  not  know  of 
God’s  hiddenness  from  its  own,  gen- 
eral understanding  but  only  as  a re- 
sult of  this  communication  of  the 
name.  The  connection  between  the 
sentence  “God  is  God”  and  the  name 
of  Yahweh  “I  am  who  I am”  has 
ramifications  of  which  Barth  became 
aware  only  in  stages.  It  is  not  only 
the  so-called  “natural  theology” 
which  comes  under  attack  from  this 
perspective,  the  theology  which  be- 
lieved it  possible  to  comprehend 
God  on  the  basis  of  human  possibil- 
ities. Also  under  attack  is  the  as- 
sumption that  the  repudiation  of 
those  human  possibilities  is  itself  a 

33  Ibid. 

35  Cf.  Gerhard  von  Rad,  Theologie  des  alten 
Testaments.  Band  i.  Die  Theologie  der  ge- 
schichtlichen  Uberlieferungen , Munich,  1957, 
pp.  182-184. 

36  KD  I/i,  p.  335.  - CD  I/i , pp.  317-18. 

negative  natural  theology  in  which 
the  impossibility  of  a human  com- 
prehension of  God  is  said  to  be  in 
fact  the  ultimate  possibility  of  such  a 
comprehension.37  Israel  knows  that 
God  is  hidden  in  such  a way  that  nei- 
ther this  nor  that  human  possibility 
will  disclose  God  to  us  humans.  In 
that  knowing  Israel  knows  of  the 
real , albeit  also  hidden  God.  And 
since  the  church,  too,  is  not  in  pos- 
session of  a key  to  open  up  the 
knowledge  of  God  from  the  human 
side,  it,  too,  has  to  wait  with  Israel  for 
the  revelation  of  the  God38  who  is 
present  already,  hidden  underneath 
that  waiting,  giving  that  waiting  its 
very  basis. 

All  this  indicates  that  the  sentence 
“God  is  God”  also  contains  at  its  core 
a new  way  for  the  church  to  see  the 
Old  Testament  and  Israel  (and,  as 
well,  a style  for  a more  serious  way 
of  speaking  of  God:  never  about 
God,  but  only  to  God  and  before 
God!).  If  this  “God  is  God”  is  the 
premise  of  Barth’s  christocentrism 
then  we  may  claim  that  he  came  to 
his  christocentrism  in  an  Old  Testa- 
ment fashion.  In  1933  Barth  once  de- 
clared that  Christ  beholds  “Jews  in  a 
struggle  with  the  true  God  and  us,  as 
heathens[!j  in  peace  with  false 
gods.”39  To  this  I would  add  that 
with  his  sentence  “God  is  God” 
Barth  confesses  with  Israel,  the  one 
who  “fights  with  God,"  the  true  God 
who  on  account  of  being  beyond  hu- 

37  In  this  way  was  Barth’s  Commentary  on 
Romans  often  misunderstood,  but  cf.  Ro- 
merbrief,  p.  84.  - Romans,  pp.  109-10. 

38  Cf.  "Unterricht  m der  christlichen  Reli- 
gion.,”  pp.  181-187;  an(f  already:  Romerbrief, 
p.  408.  - Romans. 

39  Die  Kirche  Jesu  Chnsti.  Theologische  Exi- 
stenz  heute  5,  Munich,  1933,  p.  17. 



man  disposition  causes  a secretly  yet 
really  pagan  Christianity  to  be  at 
odds  with  false  gods. 


We  need  to  take  one  more,  final 
step  and  describe  what  this  train  of 
thought  was  leading  to.  And  we 
shall  see  that  the  aim  is  in  fact  the 
very  supposition  and  justification  of 
that  thought.  It  revolves  around  the 
sentence  which  in  the  Commentary 
on  Romans  was  expressed  as  “ God  is 
understood  only  through  God"*°  or 
later  in  the  Dogmatics,  as  “ God  only 
can  speak  of  God.  "*'  Here  too,  the 
sentence  “God  is  God”  is  the  basic 
motif  as  well  as  the  key  to  its  expla- 
nation. If  one  reflects  on  those  for- 
mulations correctly  it  becomes  clear 
that  they  are  not  the  desperate  con- 
clusion to  be  drawn  from  our  human 
limitations  in  this  matter.  The  con- 
verse is  true:  That  humans  cannot 
grasp  God  is  the  consistent  conclu- 
sion to  be  drawn  from  the  insights 
that  God  only  can  speak  of  God,  and 
God  can  be  understood  only  through 
God.  We  acknowledge  that  we  can- 
not make  God  become  manifest  to 
us.  This  is  not  because  God  does  not 
enter  our  reality  but  because  it  is 
only  in  God’s  own  ^//-revelation 
that  God  is  manifest  to  humans. 
This  means  that  we  humans  cannot 
overcome  the  dilemma  that  we  are 
in  fact  dealing  with  ourselves  every 
time  we  talk  of  God.  This  dilemma 
is  overcome  only  when  it  is  none 
other  than  God  who  makes  God 
known  to  us.  And  no  matter  how  we 

40  Rdmerbnef  , p.  87.  - Romans,  p.  1 12. 

4'  Die  christliche  Dogmatik  im  Entwurf, 
p.  532.  Cf.  K.D  II/i,  p.  201,  I/2,  p.  839^.  - CD 
II/i,p.  179, 1/2,  p.  751. 

humans  say  “God,”  it  is  only  when 
God  is  revealed  to  us  through  God 
that  we  are  not  dealing  with  our- 
selves. Who  God  is  becomes  known 
only  in  God’s  own  self-definition. 

That  God  is  God  implies  that,  in 
contrast  to  us,  God  is  not  self-en- 
closed, and  that  the  tautology  can  re- 
solve itself  from  within.  More  pre- 
cisely, the  formula  “God  is  God”  is 
to  be  understood  not  only  as  a tau- 
tology, not  only  as  a mere  equation, 
but  also  as  a declaration  in  which  a 
deposition  is  made.  For  the  subject 
of  the  sentence  is  enlarged  by  the 
predicate.  The  formula  is  misunder- 
stood if  it  is  read  in  the  sense  of  mys- 
ticism, expressing  a permanent 
sameness  of  God’s  self,  bound  to  the 
law  that  like  can  come  together  only 
with  like.  The  declaration  “God  is 
God”  means,  rather,  that  God  is  not 
“simply”  God  but  is  a divine  subject, 
a subject  enlarged  by  a predicate  so 
that  God  becomes  something  other 
than  “simply”  God.42 

Now  that  is  a daring  notion  in  the 
theological  tradition,  one  that  has 
wide-ranging  implications  for  the- 
ology as  well  as  ethics.  For  it  declares 
that  we  are  so  to  think  of  God  that  to 
be  other  is  already  part  of  God’s 
being.  But  even  though  the  sentence 
“God  is  God”  implies  the  idea  that 
God  can  be  other,  it  still  maintains 
that  even  in  the  other  which  God  can 
be,  God  does  not  become  someone 
other  but  remains  the  self-same  God. 
These  are  the  rudiments  of  the  doc- 
trine of  the  Trinity  which  Barth 
came  to  learn  only  after  he  had  com- 
pleted the  Commentary  on  Romans. 
He  wrote,  for  example,  in  1927: 
“God  is  God.  It  is  the  doctrine  of  the 

4i  Die  christliche  Dogmatik,  p.  293. 


1 1 1 

Trinity  which  provides  the  funda- 
mental protection  of  that  sen- 

This  still  needs  to  be  said  more 
clearly:  the  doctrine  of  the  Trinity 
safeguards  the  insight  that  in  God’s 
revelation  we  are  truly  dealing  with 
God.  In  God’s  revelation!  That  God 
can  be  other  than  simply  God  is 
something  we  know  exclusively 
from  that  fact  that  God  once  did 
take  on  another  form  in  which  the 
hidden  God  is  revealed , another  form 
in  which  the  inaccessible  of  God 
is  the  “Thou”  in  whom  God  grants 
us  that  access.  The  formula  “God  is 
God”  is  the  declaration  in  which,  as 
Barth  put  it  in  Romans,  God  “is  this 
subject,  deus  absconditus,  which  has 
this  predicate,  deus  relevatus.”44  It  is 
in  this  subject  having  this  predicate 
that  God’s  self-interpretation  indeed 
causes  God  to  be  manifest  to  us.  All 
of  Barth’s  christocentricity  is  con- 
tained like  a seed,  as  it  were,  in  this 
declaration,  even  though  it  took  him 
decades  to  bring  it  to  full  flower. 

Initially  it  led  him  to  the  follow- 
ing insight:  that  only  God  can  speak 
of  God  means  that  God  becomes  re- 
vealed to  us  when  God  speaks  to  us, 
that  God  becomes  revealed  to  us  in 
God’s  Word.  Only  then  did  Barth  re- 
alize that,  according  to  John  1:14, 
that  Word  is  none  other  than  the 
Son.  That  is,  of  course,  the  basic 
christocentric  insight  on  which  the 
Church  Dogmatics  rests.  In  his  own 
words,  “The  Word  became  flesh : that 
is  how  God  is  God.”45  This  should 
demonstrate  that  a christocentric 
theology  is  the  inescapable  develop- 

43  Ibid.,  p.  290. 

44  Romerbrief ' p.  408.  - Romans,  p.  422. 

45  KD  I V/ 1 , p.  464.  - CD  IV/i,  p.  418. 

ment  of  the  truth  that  God  is  God. 
The  development  did  lead  to  a num- 
ber of  rearrangements  in  Barth’s 
theology  but  not  to  an  abandonment 
of  this  truth.  To  declare  that  God  is 
revealed  in  Christ  alone  is  possible 
only  if  the  sentence  “God  is  God”  is 
completely  valid;  only  that  sentence 
holds  fast  the  truth  that  the  God  who 
“is  revealed  in  self-revelation  does 
not  become  revealed  apart  from  it." 

This  is  what  needed  to  be  dem- 
onstrated. Our  interpretation  of  the 
formula  requires  two  more  explana- 
tory references. 

1)  Barth  had  a habit  of  emphasizing 
things  which  initially  sound  surpris- 
ing. He  did  so  already  in  the  Com- 
mentary on  Romans.  “The  revela- 
tion in  Jesus,  by  being  the  revelation 
of  God,  is  at  the  same  time  the  great- 
est concealment  of  God  imagina- 
ble.”46 Or,  as  Barth  would  say  later, 
“precisely  in  revelation  is  God  a hid- 
den God.”47  The  church  had  long 
opposed  semi-Pelagianism,  the  idea 
that  God’s  grace  could  in  its  full  real- 
ity, become  a human  possession. 
Barth  now  applies  that  view  to  the 
human  cognition  of  God:  God’s  rev- 
elation can  never  become  a revealed- 
ness  we  can  control,  as  if  God’s  hid- 
denness were  merely  a passing  phase 
or  a partial  truth  that  is  now  done 
away  with  on  account  of  revelation, 
allowing  us,  after  all,  to  possess  God 
in  our  human  understanding.  Lu- 
ther had  already  taught  that  it  is 
precisely  the  revealed  God  who  is 
hidden,  hidden  namely  in  the  con- 
tradiction of  a human  being  cruci- 
fied. Eberhard  Jiingel  calls  this 

46  Romerbrief,  p.  73.  - Romans,  p.  98. 

47  Die  chnstliche  Dogmati/{  im  Entwurf,  p. 



hiddenness,  “ precise  hiddenness” 
and  distinguishes  it  from  the  abso- 
lute hiddenness  of  God  of  which  Lu- 
ther had  spoken.  In  this  “precise  hid- 
denness,’’ says  J ungel,  God  hides 
her/his  hiddenness.-*8  What  J ungel  is 
trying  to  repudiate  is  that  which  he 
regards  as  the  primary  danger  for 
theology,  namely,  the  idea  that  God 
did  not  become  completely  revealed 
in  Christ  and  that,  therefore,  we  may 
not  trust  that  revelation  wholly,  for 
behind  it  God  still  remains  an  other. 
However  much  that  idea  has  to  be 
opposed,  Jungel’s  own  formulation 
is  unacceptable  because  to  speak  of 
“hiding  the  hiddenness”  means,  in 
fact,  God  is  not  hidden  anymore. 
That  is  what  Luther  may  have 
meant  when  he  correlated  Christ 
and  faith  as  directly  as  he  did,  which 
is  one  of  the  dangers  of  his  thought. 
For  Barth  the  hiddenness  of  God  in 
God’s  revelation  cannot  be  dropped 
in  such  a manner.  He  does  not  re- 
gard God’s  hiddenness  to  be  due  to 
the  fact  that,  as  in  Luther’s  view, 
God  became  hidden  in  the  human , 
but  that  in  the  other,  revealed  form 
God  is  still  wholly  God.  God  is  hid- 
den, not  because  revelation  is  partial 
but  precisely  because  God  is  com- 
pletely revealed  in  that  form,  “be- 
cause of  the  absoluteness  in  which 
God  is  manifested  to  our  under- 
standing.”49 That  does  not  mean  that 
God  is  not  revealed  here;  it  does 
mean  that  this  is  precisely  where 
God  is  revealed  as  the  Lord50  who 
binds  us  to  him/herself  but  whom 
we  cannot  bind  to  ourselves.  Now 
that  is  not  to  say  that  God  cannot  be 

••8  E.  Jiingel,  op.  cit.,  p.  239. 

49  Cf.  Anm.  47. 

KD  I/i,  p.  323.  - CD  I/i,  p.  306. 

known  by  us;  what  it  does  say  is  that 
all  knowledge  of  God  is  bound  to 
God  and  depends  at  all  times  on 
God’s  ever  new  self-giving  to  us  as 
the  revealed  one.  This  is  the  basic 
position  of  Barth’s  doctrine  of  the 
Holy  Spirit. 

2)  Revelation  is  not  simply  an  in- 
crease of  knowledge  caused  by  the 
reception  of  something  we  did  not 
know  before  and  which  now  we  add 
to  what  we  already  know.  For  if  it 
were  so,  such  revelation  would  be 
another  illumination  of  things  as 
they  are.  They  would,  however,  be 
left  to  themselves  without  change. 
One  of  Barth's  well-known  expres- 
sions speaks  to  this:  God’s  revelation 
tells  people  something  that  can  be 
known  in  the  church,  namely  that 
“people  may  and  must  live,  in  the  to- 
tality of  their  existence  as  human 
beings,  with  the  fact  that  God  is — a 
fact  that  not  only  throws  a new  light 
on,  but  in  actuality  changes,  every- 
thing and  everyone.”51  And  that 
means  no  less  than  this:  Wherever  it 
becomes  manifest  that  God  is  God, 
there  also  is  implied  the  renewal  of 
humankind  and  all  else.  God’s  reve- 
lation does  not  leave  the  world  un- 
changed to  itself  “as  if  there  were  no 
god,”  as  Luther  put  it.  Already  in  the 
Commentary  on  Romans,  Barth  said 
that  “God  is  not  God  if  God’s  begin- 
ning is  not  the  end  of  humankind.”52 
But,  as  the  context  would  show,  that 
does  not  signify  the  annihilation  of 
humankind,  so  that  God  would  be 
all  that  is  left;  it  signifies  the  trans- 
portation of  humankind  to  a point 
beyond  which  the  “ new  humanity” 
and  the  “ new  world"  come  into  ex- 

KD  II/i,  p.  289.  - CD  II/i,  p.  258. 

Rdmerbnef  , p.  1 66.  - Romans,  p.  1 87. 


istence  by  virtue  of  Christ’s  resurrec- 
tion from  the  dead.53  No,  the  new 
humanity  is  not  a divinized  human- 
ity. Rather  “humans  are  humansV ’54 
as  Barth  puts  it  in  correspondence  to 
his  “God  is  God.”  In  fact,  in  that 
God  is  revealed  to  people,  they  be- 
come genuine  human  beings — be- 
come human! — and,  as  such,  the  im- 
age of  God.55  But  as  this  revealed 
God  is  also  the  hidden  one,  so  too  is 
this  renewal  of  humankind  and 
world  hidden.  Their  hiddenness 
means  that  we  know  of  the  renewal 
only  by  faith,  that  it  will  become 

53  Ibid. 

53  Ibid.,  p.  254.  - p.  271. 

55  Ibid.,  p.  263  s. 


completely  plain  only  at  the  escha- 
ton.  It  also  means,  and  that  above  all 
else,  that  just  as  God  is  the  Lord  in 
God’s  self-revelation,  so  God  is  also 
Lord  in  the  renewal  brought  about 
in  that  revelation.  Therefore,  all 
knowledge  of  this  new  humanity, 
this  new  world,  all  knowledge  of 
what  is  called  love,  justice,  and  free- 
dom, remains  bound  to  God  the  re- 
vealed Lord  and  depends  at  all  times 
on  God’s  ever  new  clarification  of 
that  knowledge. 

If  we  understand  this  rightly,  we 
will  not  want  to  say  that  God  is  ex- 
alted at  the  expense  of  humans  but, 
rather,  emphasize  what  is  truly  to  be 
exalted,  namely,  “God  is  God.” 

African  Diaspora 

by  Albert  j.  Raboteau 

Stone  I 

The  novel.  Invisible  Man , Ralph 
Ellison’s  brilliant,  tunny,  and 
wise  meditation  upon  the  meaning 
of  black  identity  in  America,  opens 
with  a passage  that  I want  to  use  as 
an  introduction  to  this  series  of  lec- 
tures. The  unnamed  protagonist  of 
the  novel  speaks: 

I am  an  invisible  man.  No,  I am 
not  a spook  like  those  who 
haunted  Edgar  Allan  Poe;  nor  am 
I one  of  your  Hollywood-movie 
ectoplasms.  I am  a man  of  sub- 
stance, of  flesh  and  bone,  fiber 
and  liquids — and  I might  even  be 
said  to  possess  a mind.  I am  invis- 
ible understand,  simply  because 
people  refuse  to  see  me.  ...  It  is  as 
though  I have  been  surrounded 
by  mirrors  of  hard,  distorting 
glass.  When  they  approach  me 
they  see  only  my  surroundings, 
themselves,  or  figments  of  their 
imagination — indeed,  everything 
and  anything  except  me.  Nor  is 

The  Stone  Lectureship  at  Princeton 
Seminary  was  established  in  i8yi  by  Levi 
P.  Stone  of  Orange,  New  Jersey.  This  year's 
lecturer,  Dr.  Albert  J.  Raboteau,  is  profes- 
sor of  religion  at  Princeton  University.  A 
graduate  of  Loyola  University,  the  Univer- 
sity of  California  at  Berkeley,  Marquette 
University,  and  Yale  University,  Dr.  Ra- 
boteau taught  on  the  faculties  of  Xavier 
University  in  New  Orleans,  Yale,  and  the 
University  of  California  at  Berkeley  before 
coming  to  Princeton  University  in  1983. 
He  is  the  author  of  Slave  Religion:  The 
“Invisible  Institution"  in  the  Antebel- 
lum South,  awarded  the  National  Reli- 
gious Bool{  Award  in  7979,  and  is  a mem- 
ber of  the  Editorial  Council  of  Theology 
Today.  The  following  is  the  first  of  five 
lectures  delivered  in  February  1 986. 


my  invisibility  exactly  a matter  of 
biochemical  accident  to  my  epi- 
dermis. That  invisibility  to  which 
I refer  occurs  because  of  a pecul- 
iar disposition  of  the  eyes  of  those 
with  whom  I come  in  contact.  A 
matter  of  the  construction  of  their 
inner  eyes,  those  eyes  with  which 
they  look  through  their  physical 
eyes  upon  reality. 

The  “invisibility”  of  which  Elli- 
son speaks  is,  of  course,  the  invisibil- 
ity of  black  people  in  a white  Amer- 
ica— more  specifically,  the  inability 
of  white  Americans  to  see  the  depth 
and  complexity  of  black  American 
lives,  to  understand  the  full  human- 
ity of  black  people.  For  too  many 
years  the  dominant  culture,  aca- 
demic as  well  as  popular,  ignored  the 
presence  or  distorted  the  role  of 
Afro-Americans  in  the  nation’s  his- 
tory (secular  and  religious).  Blacks,  if 
historians  discussed  them  at  all,  fig- 
ured prominently  only  in  the  story  of 



slavery  and  in  the  topic  of  race  rela- 
tions. In  both  cases  they  appeared 
not  as  actors  in  the  national  drama 
but  as  victims  or  problems.  As  an  op- 
pressed minority  they  represented  an 
unfortunate  but  minor  exception  to 
the  main  plot  of  American  history: 
the  gradual  expansion  of  democracy 
to  include  all  citizens.  A few  coun- 
tervailing voices  protested  the  inac- 
curacy of  this  consensus  version  of 
our  history,  but  in  the  main,  black 
people  and  their  culture  remained 
absent  from  courses  in  American 
history  down  to  the  1960s.  We  were, 
so  to  speak,  invisible.  And  the  results 
of  invisibility  were  devastating.  In 
the  absence  of  black  history,  a myth 
of  the  American  past  developed,  a 
myth  which  denied  that  black  peo- 
ple had  any  past  of  significance.  Im- 
plicitly, and  sometimes  explicitly, 
they  were  dismissed  by  major  histo- 
rians as  mere  imitators  of  white  cul- 
ture. When  a graduate  student  at  an 
Ivy  League  university  announced  to 
his  advisor  in  the  late  1950s  that  he 
planned  to  write  his  dissertation  on 
some  aspect  of  black  thought,  his  ad- 
visor remarked,  “I  wasn’t  aware  that 
they  had  any.”  When  I informed 
faculty  colleagues  in  the  late  1960s 
that  I was  researching  the  religious 
life  of  blacks,  the  typical  response 
was,  “Weren’t  they  all  Baptists  and 
Methodists?”  i.e.,  “Weren’t  they  just 
like  white  Baptists  and  Methodists, 
except  for  the  color  of  their  skin?” 
Between  the  mid-1960s  and  the 
early  1970s,  the  prevailing  myth 
about  black  history  was  called  into 
question  on  campus  after  campus 
across  the  land,  as  cries  of  Civil 
Rights  activists  for  black  power  and 
black  pride  roused  students,  black 
and  white,  to  demand  courses  in 

Afro-American  history  and  culture. 
Recognizing  the  cogency  of  these  de- 
mands, administrators  and  faculty, 
at  significant  numbers  of  schools, 
added  new  courses  and  revised  old 
ones  to  take  into  account  the  black 
experience.  Afro-American  Studies 
departments  mushroomed  and  var- 
ious programs  in  ethnic  studies  and 
eventually  women’s  studies  fol- 
lowed. The  recovery  of  Afro-Amer- 
ican history  served  as  a paradigm  for 
the  recovery  of  the  pasts  of  other 
peoples  whose  stories  had  been  left 
out  of  American  history. 

This  shift  in  perspective  has  af- 
fected religious  as  well  as  secular  his- 
tory. No  longer  is  it  responsible  for 
students  of  American  Church  his- 
tory to  ignore  the  religious  experi- 
ence of  black  Americans,  or  that  of 
other  people  of  color,  as  if  they  were 
invisible.  If  the  history  of  religion  in 
America  is  the  subject,  then  it  should 
include  the  religious  life  of  all  the 
peoples  who  make  up  America,  not 
just  the  religion  of  white  Protestants. 

The  inclusion  of  Afro-Americans 
and  other  ethnic  groups  in  the  his- 
tory books  is  an  extremely  important 
development  not  just  for  academic 
study  but  for  our  understanding  of 
American  society  and  ultimately  our 
understanding  of  ourselves.  For  his- 
tory functions  as  a form  of  self-defi- 
nition. In  its  pages  we  read  our- 
selves. It  tells  us  who  we  are,  because 
it  reveals  where  we  come  from  and 
where  we’ve  been.  History,  espe- 
cially religious  history,  because  it 
touches  on  the  deepest  myths,  be- 
liefs, and  values  of  our  society,  is  per- 
sonally important  to  us  all.  To 
change  our  view  of  history  changes 
our  view  of  ourselves. 

These  Stone  lectures  derive  from 



the  changed  perspectives  which  the 
Civil  Rights  movement  demanded 
almost  two  decades  ago  and  from  the 
historical  research  that  ensued.  Dur- 
ing the  lectures  and  commentaries  of 
the  next  two  days,  we  will  strive  in 
common  to  make  more  visible  the 
religious  traditions  of  black  Ameri- 
cans in  the  hopes  of  changing  the 
condition  of  our  “inner  eyes,”  the 
eyes  with  which  we  understand  the 
reality  that  confronts  us  here  and 
now.  With  these  introductory  re- 
marks stated,  we  shall  begin. 

The  African  Diaspora 

In  the  early  1930s,  during  a field 
trip  to  the  West  African  nation  of 
Dahomey  (now  Benin),  the  Ameri- 
can anthropologists,  Melville  and 
Frances  Herskovits,  met  an  African 
taxicab  driver  named  Felix.  It  was 
one  of  those  memorable  chance  en- 
counters that  unexpectedly  moves  a 
person  to  understand  with  the  heart 
something  he  or  she  had  known  pre- 
viously only  with  the  head. 

Felix  was  driving  us  [Herskovits 
recalled]  to  a temple  of  the  Thun- 
der God,  where  we  were  to  see  a 
novice  of  the  cult  go  through  the 
ordeal  of  fire.  As  we  drove 
through  the  city  we  compared 
notes  with  our  interpreter  on  the 
deity’s  . . . worship  in  Africa  and 
the  manner  in  which  he  is  wor- 
shipped in  the  New  World — in 
Guiana,  in  Haiti,  and  else- 
where— by  the  descendants  of 
Africans  who  had  come  to  the 
Americas  and  the  islands  of  the 
Caribbean  as  slaves.  To  our  inter- 
preter, these  Africans  in  the  New 
World  were  an  old  story.  . . . Fe- 
lix, however,  was  learning  of 

New  World  Negroes  for  the  first 
time,  and  as  we  talked,  he  went 
slowly,  that  he  might  hear  what 
was  being  said.  All  at  once  there 
was  a rapid  interchange  between 
the  two  Africans,  and  then  a long 
silence.  “He  is  crying,”  said  the 
interpreter,  “tears  like  his  are 
good.”  Later,  as  we  came  to  know 
Felix  . . . we  heard  from  him  why 
he  had  been  so  moved  that  day, 
and  why  he  was  so  eager  to  hear 
about  the  Negroes  on  our  side  of 
the  Atlantic.  Like  most  Africans, 
Felix  had  been  trained  in  the  tra- 
ditions of  his  family.  He  knew 
that  long  ago  his  ancestors  had 
been  decimated  by  slave  raids.  He 
could  tell  us  the  story  of  the  wan- 
derings of  his  family  to  escape 
from  these  raids — how,  for  ex- 
ample, his  people  had  fled  from 
the  Ashanti  after  a war  in  which 
many  of  his  ancestral  relations 
had  been  lost  in  battle,  either 
killed  or  carried  off  into  captivity. 
He  could  recount  how  later, 
when  his  family  had  established  a 
new  home,  they  had  to  go  farther 
to  the  East,  and  as  their  enemies 
found  them,  farther  still,  until  it 
had  not  mattered  where  they 
went,  for  the  Aguda , as  he  called 
the  Portuguese,  had  continued  to 
clamor  for  more  and  more  slaves. 

. . . The  people  who  were  taken 
away,  Felix  said,  had  never  been 
heard  from.  His  family  did  not 
know  whether  any  of  them  had 
lived  long  enough  to  leave  de- 
scendants. But  these  relatives, 
wherever  they  had  died,  were  still 
members  of  the  ancestral  genera- 
tions, and  that  is  why  today,  when 
Felix’s  family  in  the  city  of  Ane- 
cho  in  Togoland  gives  food  for 


the  dead,  they  call  also  upon  those 
who  had  died  far  away  to  come 
and  partake  of  the  offerings. 

Felix’s  tears,  like  those  of  Alex  Haley 
upon  discovering  his  ancestral  home, 
Juffure,  are  poignant  reminders  of 
the  human  anguish  of  the  Atlantic 
slave  trade:  the  tragic  separation  of 
millions  of  individuals  from  their 
lands,  their  homes,  their  families,  the 
very  web  of  kinship  which  gave  their 
lives  meaning.  Felix’s  tears,  as  the 
translator  observed,  are  good,  for 
they  represent  the  relinking  of  a 
bond  long  broken,  the  discovery  of  a 
valuable  lost  inheritance.  And  yet, 
the  ties  binding  Africans  of  the  Old 
World  to  those  of  the  New  were 
never  totally  severed.  Although  we 
don’t  know  whether  Felix’s  ances- 
tors survived,  we  do  know  that  those 
Africans  who  did  transmitted  the 
traditions  of  West  and  Central  Af- 
rica to  their  descendants  in  the 
Americas.  The  experiences  of  cap- 
ture, enslavement,  middle  passage, 
and  seasoning,  traumatic  as  they 
were,  did  not  wipe  Africa  from  the 
memories  of  the  slaves.  For  some, 
the  memory  was  so  powerful  that  it 
led  them  to  kill  themselves,  confi- 
dent in  the  belief  that  they  would  be 
reincarnated  in  Africa.  For  the  vast 
majority,  African  customs,  African 
perspectives,  African  values,  contin- 
ued to  shape  their  lives  and  those  of 
their  descendants. 

To  be  sure,  the  spread  of  African 
traditions  in  the  New  World  did  not 
mean  the  recreation  of  African  cul- 
tures upon  these  shores,  but  rather 
the  translation  and  transformation 
of  African  values,  attitudes,  and 
practices  into  new  cultural  forms  in 
the  midst  of  enslavement  and  op- 

pression. And  yet,  thanks  to  scholars 
like  Melville  Herskovits,  Pierre  Ver- 
ger, and  Robert  Thompson,  we  can 
trace  within  several  Afro-American 
societies  clear  lines  of  influence 
stretching  back  to  the  Yoruba,  Da- 
homean,  Mende,  Ejagham,  and 
Kongo  cultures  of  Africa.  In  the 
midst  of  discontinuity,  the  continu- 
ity of  African  tradition  forces  us  to 
recognize  that  the  Atlantic  slave 
trade  was  not  only  a rupture;  it  was 
also  a diaspora. 

Central  to  this  continuity  of  tra- 
dition were  the  religious  beliefs  and 
rituals  which  served  to  articulate  Af- 
rican views  about  the  world  and  the 
place  of  people  in  the  world.  Since 
Africa  is  a continent,  not  a country, 
with  many  different  societies  and 
different  religions,  we  cannot  speak 
of  African  religion  as  if  there  were 
only  one.  We  do  know,  however, 
that  several  identifiable  African  reli- 
gions have  had  important  influence 
in  the  New  World,  and  among  these 
I wish  to  single  out  two:  the  tradi- 
tional religions  of  the  Yoruba  and  of 
the  Kongo.  At  the  risk  of  oversim- 
plifying these  two  rich  and  complex 
religious  traditions,  I want  to  focus 
on  a few  key  aspects  from  each:  from 
the  Yoruba,  the  cult  of  the  orisha,  the 
gods;  from  the  Kongo,  the  cult  of  the 
minkjsi , the  sacred  medicines  or 

The  gods  of  the  Yoruba  (and  their 
cognates  among  the  neighboring 
peoples  of  Dahomey)  travelled  with 
their  people  into  slavery,  so  that  to- 
day Ogun,  the  god  of  iron  and  of 
war,  Eshu-Elegba,  the  god  of  unpre- 
dictability, who  acts  as  both  messen- 
ger and  trickster,  Yemanja,  the  god- 
dess of  waters  and  fecundity,  and 
Shango,  the  god  of  thunder  and 

1 1 8 


lightning,  to  name  only  a tew,  in- 
spire adoration,  not  only  in  Nigeria, 
the  ancestral  homeland  of  the  Yo- 
ruba,  but  in  Brazil,  in  Haiti,  in  Cuba, 
and — thanks  to  migration  from  the 
Caribbean — in  the  United  States,  as 
well.  Yoruba-derived  religions,  such 
as  Brazilian  candomble  and  Cuban 
santeria,  have  spread  traditional  Af- 
rican concepts  of  religion  and  life  to 
people  who  have  never  seen  Africa. 
The  Yoruba  worldview,  like  that  of 
many  traditional  African  societies, 
conceived  of  life  as  basically  good. 
Ideally  people  should  achieve  health, 
prosperity,  progeny,  honor,  in  a 
word,  fulfillment.  Actually  the 
world  was  filled  with  evil  forces  that 
might  frustrate  a person’s  destiny  by 
causing  illness,  barrenness,  poverty, 
disgrace,  untimely  death  or  some 
other  misfortune,  not  already  de- 
creed by  his  or  her  fate.  The  essence 
of  religion  was  to  “prevent  misfor- 
tune and  maximize  good  fortune.” 
God,  the  Supreme  Creator,  was  be- 
lieved to  be  benevolent,  but  unin- 
volved in  human  affairs.  His  chil- 
dren, the  orisha,  intervened  in  the 
lives  of  humans,  for  good  and  for  ill. 
Like  humans,  the  orisha  had  person- 
alities and  idiosyncracies,  likes  and 
dislikes.  Unlike  humans,  they  con- 
trolled the  forces  of  nature,  with 
which  they  were  frequently  identi- 
fied, and  they  held  sway  over  the 
well-being  of  individuals  and  of 
communities.  Fortune  and  misfor- 
tune, health  and  illness,  success  and 
failure,  security  and  danger,  all  lay 
within  the  hands  of  the  gods,  who 
combined  human  unpredictability 
with  divine  power.  Thus,  one  neg- 
lected the  gods  at  considerable  peril. 
They  did  not  hesitate  to  reward 
those  who  pleased  them  and  to  pun- 
ish those  who  angered  them — not  in 

some  future  world,  but  in  the  here 
and  now. 

Each  god  held  responsibility  for  a 
particular  area  of  life.  When  people 
ventured  into  that  area,  they  paid 
obeisance  to  the  proper  god  in  order 
to  make  their  way  propitious  in  the 
world.  If,  for  example,  one  were 
about  to  use  a machete  to  clear  a path 
through  the  forest,  it  would  be  wise 
to  offer  a sacrifice  to  Ogun,  the  lord 
of  metal,  lest  some  accident  occur. 
Or,  if  you  were  about  to  begin  a 
journey,  start  a business  venture,  or 
even  begin  a lecture  series,  you’d  best 
make  an  offering  to  Eshu-Elegba, 
the  god  of  misfortune  and  of  chance. 
He  lurks  at  the  crossroads,  the  place 
of  uncertainty  and  indecision,  the 
spot  where  mischief  usually  occurs. 
Eshu  is  a trickster  and  nothing  de- 
lights him  more  than  testing  the 
pride  and  pretensions  of  human 
beings.  A tale  told  about  Eshu  by 
Cuban  descendants  of  the  Yoruba 
reveals  him  in  his  guise  as  trickster: 
There  were  two  close  friends  who 
made  the  mistake  of  presuming  too 
much  upon  the  steadfastness  of  their 
friendship.  “Nothing  can  come  be- 
tween us,”  they  bragged.  One  day 
Eshu  decided  to  put  them  to  the  test. 
He  shaved  one  side  of  his  head  and 
body  and  painted  that  side  white.  As 
the  two  friends  walked  down  the 
street  one  day,  Eshu  approached  and 
walked  right  between  them,  greet- 
ing each  with  a polite  bow,  as  he 
passed.  After  he  was  gone,  one 
friend  turned  to  the  other  and  asked, 
“Did  you  see  that  bald  white  man 
who  just  passed  by?”  “If  you  mean 
the  little  black  man  who  walked 
right  between  us,  he  had  a full  head 
of  hair!”  responded  the  other.  Well, 
as  you’ve  probably  guessed,  the  dis- 
agreement rapidly  heats  into  argu- 


ment,  and  in  a few  moments,  the 
two  old  friends  are  rolling  in  the 
dusty  street,  biting,  gouging,  and 
trying  to  punch  each  other  out, 
goaded  on  by  the  laughter  of  Eshu- 
Elegba,  echoing  in  their  ears.  The 
moral:  people  who  presume  that  life 
is  stable  and  dependable  will  sooner 
or  later  be  taught  otherwise  by  Eshu. 

As  this  story  suggests,  in  the  fig- 
ures of  the  orisha  the  Yoruba  artic- 
ulated their  vision  of  the  world.  The 
gods  represent  aspects  of  reality 
which  we,  in  our  modern  scientific 
worldview,  envisage  as  impersonal: 
accident,  chance,  nature,  disease.  To 
stay  with  Eshu-Elegba  for  a moment 
longer:  it  is  revealing  to  note  that  he 
is  frequently  paired  with  another 
orisha,  his  brother  and  close  com- 
panion, I fa.  Now  Ifa  is  the  god  of 
divination  and  so  ot  predictability. 
This  mythical  pairing  of  Eshu  and 
Ifa  signifies  the  ambiguity  of  life — 
predictable  and  secure  one  moment, 
unpredictable  and  insecure  the  next. 
To  make  the  unpredictable  more 
predictable,  the  Yoruba  turned  to 
priest-diviners  who  read  the  present 
by  “casting  Ifa” — an  elaborate  sys- 
tem of  divination  which  revealed  an- 
swers to  their  questions  and  solu- 
tions to  their  problems.  Carefully 
carved  into  the  border  of  the  wood 
tray  used  by  the  Ifa  diviners  was  the 
face  of  Eshu,  who,  so  the  legend 
goes,  taught  Ifa  the  skill  of  divina- 

Yoruba  (and  traditional  Africans 
in  general)  thought  about  the  world 
in  personal  terms,  as  the  anthropol- 
ogist Robin  Horton  has  persuasively 
argued,  because  they  experienced 
life  as  predominantly  personal  and 
relational.  Their  worldview  re- 
flected their  experience.  Person,  so- 
ciety, and  nature  were  intimately 


connected  to  one  another.  A break  in 
the  harmony  of  these  relationships 
brought  misfortune,  disease,  even 
death.  When  we  fall  ill,  we  usually 
blame  it  on  germs  or  viruses.  African 
traditionalists  blamed  the  gods  or 
the  ancestors,  not  because  they  were 
ignorant  of  “natural”  causes  of  dis- 
ease, but  because  these  were  insuffi- 
cient to  explain  a more  obstinate 
source  of  disease:  the  susceptibility 
of  human  relationships.  So  sick  peo- 
ple took  the  medicines  prescribed  by 
the  herbalist,  but  they  also  sacrificed 
to  the  orisha  and  to  the  ancestors  in 
order  to  heal  relationships  infected 
by  anger,  jealousy,  hatred,  or  selfish- 

To  maintain  or  restore  harmony 
between  the  person,  society,  and  na- 
ture, the  Yoruba  turned  to  priests, 
diviners,  and  mediums  who  pos- 
sessed the  skills  to  mediate  divine 
power  by  means  of  sacrifice,  divina- 
tion, and  possession-trance.  Sacrifice 
symbolized  the  interdependence  of 
gods  and  humans.  People  depended 
upon  the  gods  for  protection  and 
prosperity;  the  orisha  depended 
upon  people  for  food  and  praise. 
Sacrifice  strengthened  the  power  of 
the  orisha  and  earned  their  favor, 
thus  attracting  the  benevolence  of 
forces  far  beyond  human  control. 
Systems  of  divination,  some  simple, 
others  complex,  revealed  why  things 
went  awry  and  how  to  set  them 
right.  For  our  purposes,  the  most 
important  point  of  contact  between 
the  divine  and  the  human  was  spirit 
possession.  During  religious  festi- 
vals, the  mediums  or  an  orisha, 
moved  to  ecstasy  by  the  rhythmic 
drumming,  singing,  and  dancing  of 
the  celebration,  entered  trance  states 
in  which  their  personalities  gave  way 
to  the  personality  ot  the  god.  Her 

1 20 


movements,  features,  and  identity 
transformed  into  his,  the  medium 
dressed  in  his  garb,  took  up  his  em- 
blems, and  spoke  in  his  voice.  She  lit- 
erally became  the  god. 

Through  these  entranced  medi- 
ums the  gods  addressed  the  personal 
and  communal  needs  of  their  fol- 
lowers. A striking  example  of  the 
psychological  and  social  import  ol 
spirit  possession  was  recorded  by 
Pierre  Verger,  an  expert  on  Yoruba 
religion  in  Nigeria  and  Brazil.  A 
woman  who  had  lost  all  of  her  babies 
in  childbirth  became  possessed  by 
the  fierce  warrior  Ogun,  who  turned 
to  her  family  and  neighbors  and 
spoke  this  message: 

See  the  new  iyaworisha  (me- 
dium); it  is  Ogun  that  chose  her. 
...  It  is  because  I have  seen  the 
death  on  her  that  I took  her.  Now 
she  is  not  going  to  die;  no  more 
danger  for  her;  she  is  going  to 
have  a lot  of  children,  boys  and 
girls.  I am  going  to  tell  her  father 
and  her  husband  what  they  must 
do  now.  Because  she  is  not  the 
same  any  more;  the  husband  must 
not  beat  her  any  more;  he  must 
leave  her  in  peace.  If  the  husband 
has  anything  to  say,  he  must  tell  it 
to  me.  It  is  Ogun  now  who  is  the 
father.  Everybody  must  hear, 
men  and  women. 

Though  this  incident  occurred  in 
mid-twentieth-century  Nigeria,  the 
tradition  it  represents  is  centuries  old 
and  its  influence  has  spread  widely. 

While  the  religion  of  the  Yoruba 
centered  on  an  elaborate  pantheon  of 
gods,  the  religion  of  the  Kongo,  also 
widely  influential  in  the  New 
World,  centered  on  a cult  of  sacred 
charms  or  medicines  called  minkisi. 

Minkisi  played  a role  in  Kongo  soci- 
ety similar  to  that  of  the  orisha 
among  the  Yoruba:  they  guarded  the 
well-being  of  the  individual  and  of 
the  community  against  malevolent 
forces  from  within  and  from  with- 
out. Minkisi,  according  to  Kongo  be- 
lief, were  the  spirits  of  ancient  ances- 
tors embodied  or  housed  in  material 
containers.  Medicinal  leaves,  herbs, 
and  other  material  objects  placed 
within  the  container  enabled  the 
spirit  to  act  in  the  physical  world. 
They  served,  so  to  speak,  as  eyes, 
arms,  and  legs  for  the  minkisi  spirit, 
which  otherwise  would  have  re- 
mained unembodied.  Once  embod- 
ied, the  spirit  of  the  minkisi  could  be 
directed  far  and  wide  to  work  its 
owner’s  will.  Minkisi  were  assem- 
bled by  experts  who  knew  not  only 
which  material  objects  to  use  but 
which  rituals  to  enact  in  order  to 
strengthen  the  power  of  the  spirit. 
Sacrifice  was  offered  as  a gift  to 
honor  the  minkisi  spirit  and  to  en- 
courage it  to  act.  Each  nkisi  had  ta- 
boos which  its  owner  had  to  observe 
lest  the  charm  lose  its  power. 

According  to  Kongo  mythology, 
the  first  nkisi  was  given  to  humans 
long  ago  by  Nzambi,  God.  This  first 
nkisi  “came  with  a great  number 
of  minkisi  which  he  distributed 
throughout  the  country,  each  with 
its  respective  powers  governing  over 
its  particular  domain.”  As  the  myth 
suggests,  there  were  different  types 
of  minkisi  for  different  functions. 
The  predominant  role  of  minkisi 
was  healing.  They  cured  illness  or 
protected  against  it.  But  there  were 
also  minkisi  of  revenge  whose  spirits 
could  be  directed  to  hunt  down  and 
punish  thieves  and  other  malefac- 
tors. Minkisi  were  amoral;  they 
could  be  directed  to  help  or  to  harm. 


I 2 1 

Then  too,  there  were  judicial  min- 
kisi  that  functioned  to  preserve  the 
health  of  the  social  body.  When  the 
litigants  in  a dispute  reached  a settle- 
ment out  of  court,  they  sealed  their 
agreement  by  driving  pieces  of  metal 
into  the  body  of  a charm.  If  either 
party  later  reneged,  the  spirit  of  the 
nkisi  would  hunt  him  down  no  mat- 
ter how  far  he  fled.  In  keeping  with 
the  traditional  African  vision  of  the 
world  as  personal,  people  depended 
upon  minkisi  to  protect  themselves 
from  the  evil  unleashed  consciously 
or  unconsciously  by  the  human 
heart.  They  stood  as  powerful  warn- 
ings to  the  unwary  that  they  needed 
protection  against  the  ill  feeling 
lurking  beneath  the  surface  of  all 
human  communities. 

In  Kongo  religion,  the  grave  itself 
was  a kind  of  charm,  in  that  it  served 
as  a container,  an  enclosure  of  pow- 
erful spirits,  in  this  case  the  spirits  of 
the  other  world.  In  the  Kongo  and  in 
America  grave  decorations,  the  ob- 
jects placed  on  graves,  not  only 
honor  the  dead  but  symbolize  the 
ongoing  connectedness  of  life  be- 
yond the  grave,  the  world  of  the 
dead,  to  life  in  this  world,  the  world 
of  the  living. 

In  these  ancient  cults  of  the  orisha 
and  the  minkisi,  the  Yoruba  and  the 
people  of  the  Kongo  articulated  their 
vision  of  the  world  and  how  people 
should  go  about  living  in  order  to 
fulfill  their  proper  destinies.  Slavery 
spread  the  orisha  and  the  minkisi 
from  their  original  homes  in  West 
and  Central  Africa  to  new  and  dis- 
tant lands  across  the  sea.  In  Brazilian 
candomble,  Haitian  Voodoo,  and 
Cuban  santeria,  the  orisha  were  re- 
membered by  name,  their  legendary 
feats  and  personal  traits  praised  in 
song — sometimes  in  Yoruba — and 

their  wills  revealed  through  systems 
of  divination,  virtually  identical  to 
those  used  in  Africa.  Most  impor- 
tantly, the  drumming  and  dancing 
characteristic  of  feast  days  in  Africa 
have  continued  to  call  down  the  gods 
to  manifest  themselves  in  the  bodies 
of  their  followers  in  America.  Here 
as  there,  Ogun  brandishes  his  ma- 
chete, Shango  wields  his  double- 
edged  thunder  axe,  and  Yemanja 
Hashes  her  brass  fan,  as  they  dance 
their  own  characteristic  steps  to  the 
appropriate  rhythm  of  the  drums. 
Similarly,  the  Kongo  minkisi  ap- 
peared in  Cuba,  Brazil,  and  Haiti.  In 
the  nineteenth  century,  slaves  in 
Cuba  made  minkisi  figures  to  attack 
slaveholders  and  other  enemies.  In 
Haiti,  charms  called  pacquets -congo 
were  assembled  by  voodoo  priests 
and  priestesses  to  guard  their  owners 
and  their  owners’  households  from 

There  were  changes,  however. 
For  example,  in  America  the  gods 
have  taken  on  new  identities.  Ogun 
became  St.  George;  Shango — St. 
Barbara;  Yemanja — the  Virgin 
Mary;  and  Eshu-Elegba — both  Sa- 
tan and  St.  Peter.  The  Catholicism 
of  the  French,  Spanish,  and  Portu- 
guese slave  colonies  offered  to  Afri- 
cans a supportive  system  of  piety 
similar  in  important  respects  to  their 
own.  Catholics  venerated  powerful 
figures  called  saints,  celebrated  their 
feast  days,  appealed  to  them  as  pa- 
trons, and  represented  them  with 
emblems,  pictures,  and  blessed  ob- 
jects. Moreover,  the  saints  had  spe- 
cial attributes  like  the  gods:  St.  Bar- 
bara, for  example,  protected  the 
faithful  from  lightning,  a clear  ana- 
logue to  Shango;  Peter  as  keeper  of 
the  keys  opening  the  gates  to  heaven 
recalled  Eshu  the  messenger  open- 



ing  the  way  between  god  and  hu- 
manity; Satan  the  tempter  resem- 
bled Eshu  the  trickster;  St.  George, 
dressed  in  a suit  of  metal  and  wield- 
ing a sword,  simulated  Ogun;  and 
the  Blessed  Mother  robed  in  blue 
and  white,  the  colors  of  the  sea,  and 
holding  a baby,  had  to  be  Yemanja. 
The  saints  not  only  served  as  con- 
venient cover  for  Africans  to  pre- 
serve the  cult  of  their  own  gods,  they 
were  the  orisha,  under  different 
guise.  Beneath  the  identification 
with  Catholic  saints,  the  African 
character  of  the  gods  remained  par- 
amount. It  was  Ogun,  not  St. 
George;  Yemanja,  not  the  Blessed 
Virgin,  who  came  down  to  possess 
their  mediums  in  the  ecstasy  of  the 
ceremonial  dance. 

Thus,  in  Brazil  and  the  Carib- 
bean, the  imprint  of  Africa  upon  the 
religions  of  Afro-Americans  is 
etched  deeply  and  clearly  for  all  to 
read.  In  the  United  States  that  im- 
print was  much  fainter.  Why?  The 
hostility  of  Protestantism  to  major 
features  of  African  piety  helps  to  ex- 
plain why  African  traditions  in  this 
country  appear  more  subtle  and  cov- 
ert than  in  Catholic  countries  to  the 
South.  Protestants  condemned  ven- 
eration of  saints  and  the  ritual  use  of 
blessed  objects  as  idolatry.  Much  of 
the  piety  that  Africans  had  found  fa- 
miliar in  Catholic  practice  was  ab- 
sent from  Protestantism.  In  Brazil 
and  Cuba,  for  example,  confraterni- 
ties or  religious  brotherhoods  of- 
fered Catholic  slaves  and  free  blacks 
an  institutional  structure  for  organ- 
izing African-style  religious  com- 
munities. Slaves  in  the  United  States 
lacked  such  structures. 

Moreover,  the  pattern  of  slave  dis- 
tribution in  the  United  States  inhib- 
ited the  open  and  institutional  trans- 

mission of  African  religious 
traditions.  Only  about  4.5%  of  the 
Africans  enslaved  in  the  hemisphere 
lived  in  this  country.  Haiti  imported 
twice  as  many  Africans  as  the 
United  States,  and  Brazil  8.5  times  as 
many.  Jamaica  and  Cuba  each  im- 
ported hundreds  of  thousands  more 
than  the  United  States  (U.S.  = 
427,000;  Jamaica  = 748,000;  Cuba 
= 702,000).  In  addition  to  the  rela- 
tively small  number  of  Africans,  the 
slave  population  of  the  United  States 
had  a unique  rate  of  natural  increase. 
By  1 865,  it  had  increased  to  ten  times 
the  number  imported.  By  contrast, 
the  slave  populations  at  the  time  of 
emancipation  in  Haiti  (1794)  and  Ja- 
maica (1834)  were  far  smaller  than 
the  number  of  Africans  imported 
(Haiti  864,000  : 480,000;  Jamaica 
748,000  : 311,000).  By  the  end  of  the 
slave  trade  in  this  country  in  1808,  a 
majority  of  slaves  were  native  born 
and  had  no  direct  experience  of  Af- 
rica, while  in  Latin  America,  declin- 
ing slave  populations  had  to  be  rein- 
forced from  Africa,  resulting  in  a 
continuous  “Africanization”  of  the 
slave  population. 

Furthermore  the  ratio  of  Europe- 
ans to  Africans  was  much  greater  in 
the  United  States  than  in  the  Carib- 
bean and  Brazil.  Iberians  and 
French  colonists  sought  to  exploit 
the  land  and  return  it  to  the  Metro- 
pole  wealthy.  British  settled.  Here 
the  ratio  was  either  equal  to  or  in  fa- 
vor of  whites,  with  the  exception  of 
lowland  South  Carolina  and  Geor- 
gia, the  precise  locale  in  which  Afri- 
can influence  was  most  marked.  La- 
bor units  in  the  United  States  were 
small  in  size  compared  to  the  Carib- 
bean, and  slaves  were  dispersed 
among  whites  rather  than  being 
largely  isolated  from  them.  Thus  the 



extent  of  cultural  contact  and  the 
pressure  to  acculturate  were  greater 
in  the  United  States  than  in  most 
other  slaveholding  areas  of  the  hem- 

Population  factors  combined  with 
religious  factors  help  to  explain  the 
disparity  of  African  cultural  influ- 
ence across  Afro-American  societies. 
With  the  exception  of  Louisiana,  an 
outpost  of  the  Caribbean,  African 
theology  and  ritual  did  not  persist  as 
fully  in  the  United  States  as  they  did 
in  the  Caribbean  and  parts  of  Latin 
America.  But  the  personal  cosmol- 
ogy of  African  traditional  thought 
with  its  emphasis  on  spirit  possession 
and  sacred  medicines  lived  on  in 
the  worship  of  black  “shouting” 
churches  and  in  the  practice  of  con- 

It  was  no  accident  that  slaves  in 
the  United  States  began  converting 
to  Christianity  in  large  numbers 
during  the  periods  of  revival.  Late 
eighteenth-  and  early  nineteenth- 
century  revivals  made  Christianity 
attractive  to  more  black  Americans 
than  ever  before,  because  revivals 
encouraged  ecstatic  behavior,  the 
outward  physical  expression  of  reli- 
gious experience,  so  reminiscent  of 
African  spirit  possession.  Overcome 
by  the  emotional  fervor  of  the  re- 
vival meetings,  converted  sinners, 
white  and  black  alike,  wept, 
shouted,  sang,  jerked,  danced,  and 
fainted  in  response  to  the  powerful 
pleas  of  the  revival  preachers.  Slaves 
readily  approved  of  these  “physical 
exercises,”  as  they  were  called,  and 
quickly  incorporated  them  into  their 
regular  religious  services.  In  this  ec- 
static worship,  fostered  by  Protestant 
revivalism,  the  slaves  discovered  a 
Christian  analogue  to  African  spirit 
possession.  To  be  sure,  there  were 

differences.  The  slaves  believed  that 
they  were  filled  by  the  Holy  Spirit, 
not  possessed  by  Ogun  or  some  other 
god.  But  the  rhythmic  drumming, 
repetitive  singing,  and  constant 
dancing,  characteristic  of  possession 
ceremonies  in  Africa,  were  repli- 
cated on  the  plantations  of  the  ante- 
bellum South.  Slaves  used  hands  and 
feet  to  approximate  the  rhythms  of 
the  drum,  they  substituted  spirituals 
for  the  hymns  to  the  gods,  and  they 
danced  in  a counter-clockwise  cir- 
cular ring,  called  the  shout,  the  steps 
of  which  bore  a striking  resemblance 
to  possession  dances  in  Africa  and 
the  Caribbean.  This  “Africaniza- 
tion” of  Christianity  was  decried  by 
an  anti-revivalist  minister  in  1819: 

Here  ought  to  be  considered  too, 
a most  exceptionable  error,  which 
has  the  tolerance  at  least  of  the 
rulers  of  our  camp  meetings.  In 
the  blacks'  quarter,  the  colored 
people  get  together,  and  sing  for 
hours  together,  short  scraps  of 
disjointed  affirmations,  pledges, 
or  prayers,  lengthened  out  with 
long  repetitious  choruses. . . . With 
every  word  so  sung,  they  have  a 
sinking  of  one  or  other  leg  of  the 
body  alternately,  producing  an 
audible  sound  of  the  feet  at  every 
step,  and  as  manifest  as  the  steps 
of  actual  negro  dancing.  ...  If 
some,  in  the  meantime  sit,  they 
strike  the  sounds  alternately  on 
each  thigh  . . . the  evil  is  only  oc- 
casionally condemned  and  the  ex- 
ample has  already  visibly  affected 
the  religious  manners  of  some 

Fifty  years  later,  educated  black 
ministers,  like  AME  bishop  Daniel 
Alexander  Payne,  tried  to  stamp  out 
the  shout — in  vain. 



I attended  a “bush  meeting.”  . . . 
After  the  sermon  they  formed  a 
ring,  and  with  coats  off  sung, 
clapped  their  feet  in  a most  ridic- 
ulous and  heathenish  way.  I re- 
quested the  pastor  to  go  and  stop 
their  dancing.  At  his  request  they 
stopped  their  dancing  and  clap- 
ping of  hands,  but  remained  sing- 
ing and  rocking  their  bodies  to 
and  fro.  ...  I then  went,  and  tak- 
ing their  leader  by  the  arm  re- 
quested him  to  desist  and  to  sit 
down  and  sing  in  a rational  man- 
ner. 1 told  him  . . . that  it  was  a 
heathenish  way  to  worship  and 
disgraceful  to  themselves,  the 
race,  and  the  Christian  name.  In 
that  instance  they  broke  up  their 
ring;  but  would  not  sit  down,  and 
walked  sullenly  away.  After  the 
sermon  in  the  afternoon,  having 
another  opportunity  of  speaking 
alone  to  this  young  leader  of  the 
singing  and  clapping  ring,  he 
said:  “Sinners  won’t  get  con- 
verted unless  there  is  a ring.”  Said 
I:  “You  might  sing  till  you  fall 
down  dead,  and  you  would  fail  to 
convert  a single  sinner,  because 
nothing  but  the  Spirit  of  God  and 
the  word  of  God  can  convert  sin- 
ners.” He  replied:  “The  Spirit  of 
God  works  upon  people  in  differ- 
ent ways.  At  camp-meeting  there 
must  be  a ring  here,  a ring  there, 
a ring  over  yonder,  or  sinners  will 
not  get  converted.”  This  was  his 
idea,  and  it  is  also  that  of  many 
others.  These  “Bands”  I have  had 
to  encounter  in  many  places.  . . . 
To  the  most  thoughtful  ...  I usu- 
ally succeeded  in  making  the 
“Band”  disgusting  but  by  the  ig- 
norant masses  ...  it  was  regarded 
as  the  essence  of  religion. 

That  slaves,  in  the  country  com- 
monly identified  as  least  susceptible 
to  African  influence,  considered  it 
meaningful,  even  essential,  to  dance 
so  that  the  Spirit  would  come  is 
proof  of  the  adaptability  of  African 
religious  perspectives  and  of  their 
continuity  in  the  most  diverse  forms 
and  situations. 

In  addition  to  the  ring  shout  there 
are  other  indications  that  slaves  in 
North  America  reinterpreted  evan- 
gelical Protestantism  in  the  language 
and  perspective  of  spirit  possession. 
For  example  Henry  Brown,  a slave 
in  Virginia  in  the  1830s,  noted  that 
when  his  sister  “became  anxious  to 
have  her  soul  converted”  she 
“shaved  the  hair  from  her  head,  as 
many  of  the  slaves  thought  they 
could  not  be  converted  without 
doing  this.”  Shaving  the  head  of  the 
initiate  was  an  essential  part  of  the 
preparation  for  possession  in  the  cult 
of  the  gods.  Since  the  head  is  be- 
lieved to  be  the  seat  of  possession,  it 
must  be  “baptized”  to  ready  the  nov- 
ice to  receive  his  or  her  patron  god. 

A whole  series  of  underlying  cor- 
respondences between  Christian  and 
African  initiation  practices  suggest 
why  slaves  could  readily  have  rein- 
terpreted both  religious  traditions  in 
the  light  of  each  other.  In  the  cult  of 
the  gods,  misfortune,  illness,  and 
persistent  bad  luck  signified  that  a 
god  had  chosen  a person  to  serve  as 
his  medium.  In  the  cult  of  the  min- 
kisi,  similar  bouts  of  misfortune  in- 
dicated that  an  ancestor  spirit 
wanted  you  to  embody  it  in  a charm. 
In  evangelical  Protestantism,  ante- 
bellum slaves  interpreted  misfor- 
tune, anxiety,  and  illness  as  preludes 
to  the  experience  of  conversion.  In 
Africa,  new  mediums  experienced 



their  first  possession  as  a fearful  sei- 
zure that  strikes  them  senseless  and 
stiffens  their  limbs  as  if  in  death.  In 
account  after  account,  former  slaves 
recalled  the  onset  of  conversion  in 
similar  terms:  “I  fell  down  and 
everything  got  dark.”  “My  limbs  got 
stiff,  and  my  jaws  were  locked.” 
“God  Struck  Me  Dead.”  In  addition 
to  the  head  shaving,  the  period  of 
initiation  into  the  cult  of  the  gods  re- 
quired the  initiate  to  separate  from 
her  family  and  friends,  to  he  quiet,  to 
regress  to  a childish  state.  She  is  then 
reborn  with  a new  identity  as  a child 
of  the  god.  Former  slaves  spoke  of 
being  driven  during  the  process  of 
conversion  to  spend  days  alone, 
seeking  privacy  or  quiet  down  in 
that  lonesome  valley.  They  also 
spoke  of  experiencing  an  inner  self,  a 
“little  me,”  and  exclaimed  that  con- 
version made  them  new  all  over.  “I 
looked  at  my  feet  and  they  looked 
new.  I looked  at  my  hands  and  they 
felt  new.”  Finally,  the  waters  of  bap- 
tism were  analogous  to  the  herbal 
baths  that  initiated  novices  into  the 
service  of  the  gods.  Despite  obvious 
differences,  the  common  symbolic 
and  experiential  characteristics  of 
these  two  traditions  permitted 
North  American  slaves  to  transform 
them  into  one. 

Although  Protestantism  could  not 
supply  a theological  analogy  to  the 
orisha,  since  it  had  forsworn  saintly 
mediators  between  God  and  human- 
ity, Evangelicalism  did  offer  the  ex- 
perience of  conversion  as  a behav- 
ioral analogy  to  the  ecstasy  of 
possession.  Arguably,  spirit  posses- 
sion has  been  the  most  significant 
and  distinctive  feature  of  Afro- 
American  religions,  proof  positive  of 
their  family  resemblance  despite 

many  physiognomic  differences. 
Such  an  argument  has  been  persua- 
sively made  by  the  sociolinguist 
Morton  Marks  who  proposes  that  a 
common  ritual  structure  informs 
black  performance  style  across  di- 
verse areas  of  the  New  World.  Black 
musical  and  speech  performances  in 
Brazil,  the  Caribbean,  and  the 
United  States  are  typically  struc- 
tured by  a pattern  of  style-switching 
in  which  the  performance  shifts 
from  a European-derived  style  (usu- 
ally perceived  as  orderly  and  rational 
by  the  uninitiated)  to  an  African-de- 
rived style  of  music  or  speech  (usu- 
ally perceived  as  incomprehensible 
noise  by  the  uninitiated).  White  ob- 
servers of  the  black  chanted  sermon, 
for  example,  have  frequently  com- 
plained that  the  preacher  spoke  sen- 
sibly enough  until  he  got  carried 
away  by  his  emotions  and  became 
incoherent.  The  switch  is  not  from 
rational  order  to  emotional  non- 
sense, but  from  one  style  of  perform- 
ance to  another,  from  a simple  to  an 
increasingly  complex  rhythmic  pat- 
tern. The  moment  of  shift  is  sig- 
nalled by  certain  performance  cues. 
In  the  case  of  the  chanted  sermon, 
the  cues  include  increasingly  metri- 
cal phrasing  by  the  preacher,  the  re- 
striction of  his  vocal  chords,  over- 
breathing and  the  raspy  catch  of 
breath  at  the  end  of  each  metrical 
phrase.  These  and  other  perform- 
ance keys  signify  that  the  preacher 
(or  singer)  is  becoming  possessed.  Si- 
multaneously, the  code  switching 
announces  the  arrival  of  the  spirit 
and  encourages  possession  trance  in 
the  congregation.  The  important 
point  here  is  not  that  black  perform- 
ance switches  from  European  to 
African  style,  but  that  switching  sig- 



nals  effects  ritual  spirit  possession. 
And  this  underlying  ritual  structure 
pertains  across  widely  disparate 
black  societies.  When  members  of 
the  Umbanda  religion  in  Brazil  lis- 
tened to  an  album  by  the  black  gos- 
pel group  Five  Blind  Boys  from  Al- 
abama, in  which  the  lead  singer 
adopts  the  chanted  preaching  style, 
they  had  no  difficulty  identifying  the 
exact  moment  when  the  singer,  as 
they  put  it,  “caught  the  spirit.”  The 
African  rituals  of  possession  lived  on 
in  the  praise  meetings  and  black 
shouting  churches  of  the  South,  in- 
fluencing the  perspectives  and  be- 
havior of  slaves  and  their  descend- 
ents  even  as  they  converted  to  the 
God  of  Christianity.  And,  if  Marks  is 
correct,  those  ancient  rituals  still  in- 
form the  structure  of  black  religious 
worship  today. 

Whereas  the  ring-shout  repre- 
sented the  mutual  reinterpretation 
of  African  spirit  possession  and 
Christian  revivalism,  conjure  sym- 
bolized the  translation  of  Kongo 
minkisi  into  Afro-American  magi- 
cal medicine.  Conjure,  also  known 
as  hoodoo  or  root  work,  was  wide- 
spread in  the  nineteenth-century 
South  and  exists  today  in  urban  as 
well  as  rural  Afro-America.  Conjure 
depended  upon  the  belief  that  illness 
and  misfortune  were  caused  by  the 
enmity  of  others.  Conjurers  had  the 
power  to  make  charms  to  protect 
against  evil  or  to  work  harm  upon  an 
enemy.  Just  like  Kongo  minkisi, 
conjure  charms  consisted  of  various 
materials  that  derived  their  power  to 
harm  or  cure  from  the  spirit  embod- 
ied within.  Since  charms  embodied 
spiritual  power,  they  were  occasion- 
ally moistened  with  liquor  or  offered 
food  in  order  to  keep  up  their 
strength.  Significantly,  one  of  the 

most  powerful  ingredients  for  mak- 
ing a charm  was  graveyard  dirt, 
known  as  goopher  dust,  probably 
derived  from  the  Kikongo  term  for 
corpse,  “kufwa.”  Goopher  dust 
owed  its  power  to  the  spirit  of  the 
dead  that  it  embodied.  Charms,  like 
minkisi,  fulfilled  a social  as  well  as 
medical  function  by  allowing  people 
to  vent  their  feelings  about  others, 
feelings  of  anger  or  ill  will  that  were 
best  kept  secret.  Conjure  also  in- 
volved a rough  kind  of  justice,  be- 
cause anyone  who  attempted  to  con- 
jure someone  else  knew  that  a 
charm,  if  discovered,  could  be 
turned  back  upon  its  sender. 

On  the  theoretical  level  the  rela- 
tionship between  Christianity  and 
the  minkisi  tradition  of  charms  was 
ambiguous.  Some  people  dichoto- 
mized the  two,  making  conjure  the 
realm  of  the  Devil  and  Christianity 
the  realm  of  God.  On  the  practical 
level,  however,  conjure  and  Christi- 
anity proved  to  be  complementary. 
Christianity  offered  a language  rich 
in  the  vocabulary  of  morality,  a lan- 
guage in  which  personal  salvation, 
the  ultimate  end  of  human  history, 
and  ritual  interaction  with  the  Su- 
preme Being  were  well-articulated. 
For  all  that,  Christianity  did  not 
have  as  well-developed  a vocabulary 
as  conjure  for  expressing  day-to-day 
concerns  about  fortune  and  misfor- 
tune. In  other  words,  Protestantism 
had  a comparatively  underdevel- 
oped ritual  technology  for  dealing 
with  such  everyday  realities  as  secu- 
rity and  danger.  Explanation  of  mis- 
fortune, effective  cure  of  illness,  pre- 
diction and  control  of  future  events, 
and  symbolic  expression  of  social 
conflict:  it  was  precisely  these  mun- 
dane issues  that  conjure  addressed 
and  that  Christianity  found  prob- 



lematic.  To  effect  cures,  Protestants 
offered  prayer;  to  know  the  future, 
dreams  or  randomly  selected  verses 
of  Scripture.  For  relief  of  social  ten- 
sion, proscriptions  against  jealousy, 
covetousness,  anger,  and  fighting, 
the  very  “itch”  that  needed  scratch- 
ing. Christianity  as  a language  was 
dominated  by  a syntactical  structure 
of  right  and  wrong.  But  certain  ex- 
periences in  life  fell  outside  the  cate- 
gories of  morality,  danger,  and 
safety  or  the  use  of  power  in  a “dog 
eat  dog”  world,  for  example.  These 
formed  the  syntactic  structure,  so  to 
speak,  of  conjure.  Slaves  (and  their 
descendents),  practical  realists  that 
they  were,  spoke  both  languages, 
Christianity  and  conjure,  depending 
upon  which  proved  more  appropri- 
ate to  the  particular  concern  at  hand. 

In  the  practice  of  conjure,  the 
minkisi  tradition  of  spirit-embody- 
ing medicines  took  root  in  America. 
The  association  of  conjure  with  Af- 
rica was  axiomatic  in  black  folklore: 
it  was  generally  believed  that  conjur- 
ers were  “African”  and  that  Africa 
was  a place  of  powerful  magic.  For 
example,  Aaron’s  ability  to  turn  his 
rod  into  a serpent  before  Pharaoh 
demonstrated  the  magical  aura  of 
Africa,  according  to  former  slave 
Thomas  Smith;  “Dat  happen  in  Af- 
rica de  Bible  say.  Ain’  dat  show  dat 
Africa  wuz  a lan  uh  magic  powah 
since  de  begginnin  uh  history?  Well 
duh  descendants  ub  Africans  hab 
duh  same  gif  tuh  do  unnatchal  ting. ” 
Black  folk  in  coastal  Georgia  and  the 
Sea  Islands  preserved  numerous  sto- 
ries about  the  miraculous  ability  of 
their  African-born  ancestors  to  fiy 
back  to  Africa  when  they  grew  tired 
of  slavery  in  America.  Ex-slave  Wil- 
liam Adams,  himself  a conjurer, 
claimed  that  “De  old  folks  in  dem 

days  knows  more  about  de  signs  dat 
de  Lawd  uses  to  reveal  His  laws  dan 
de  folks  of  today.  It  am  also  true  of 
de  cullud  folks  in  Africa;  dey  native 
land.”  Significantly,  it  was  also  axio- 
matic in  this  system  that  the  medi- 
cine of  white  doctors  was  powerless 
to  heal  anyone  who  had  been  con- 

Besides  conjure,  the  graveyards  of 
black  Americans  reveal  the  ongoing 
influence  of  the  Kongo  religious  tra- 
dition upon  Afro-American  culture. 
In  addition  to  the  standard  head- 
stone and  cross,  the  graves  in  Amer- 
ican black  communities  have  been 
decorated  with  shells,  mirrors, 
lamps,  pipes,  and  the  last-used  pos- 
sessions of  the  deceased.  In  Kongo 
thought,  the  world  of  the  dead,  char- 
acterized by  wisdom,  mirrors  the 
world  of  the  living,  characterized  by 
energy.  The  worlds  are  joined  by 
spirits  of  the  dead  whose  power  and 
insight  can  affect  the  lives  of  their 
posterity.  The  living,  should  they 
wish,  can  make  contact  with  the 
world  of  the  spirits  through  the  door 
to  their  world  the  grave.  In  both 
Kongo  and  Afro-American  custom 
the  grave  was  marked  out  by  an  en- 
closure, a border,  formed  by  bottles, 
shells,  concrete,  wooden  posts,  what- 
ever. Enclosure  protected  the  de- 
ceased from  intrusion  by  outsiders 
and  guarded  the  living  against  the 
awesome  power  of  the  dead.  Mirrors 
and  glass  embedded  in  Afro-Amer- 
ican gravestones  reflected  the  Kongo 
concept  that  the  boundary  between 
this  world  and  the  other  is  water, 
which  is  both  transparent  and  re- 
flects light.  The  flash  of  light  playing 
on  the  glass  illustrated  the  belief  that 
the  underworld  was  the  world  of 
sight  and  understanding,  symbol- 
ized by  the  color  white.  Lamps 



placed  on  black  American  graves  lit 
the  path  of  the  dead  to  the  under- 
world, especially  those  who  died  at 
night.  Pipes  or  culverts,  stuck  into 
the  grave,  served  to  channel  com- 
munication between  the  other  world 
and  this.  Images  of  white  chickens 
stood  for  sacrifice,  the  act  of  media- 
tion that  invoked  the  aid  of  the  spir- 
its. Trees  planted  directly  on  the 
graves  reminded  the  living  that  the 
human  spirit  is  immortal.  Shells  cov- 
ering the  graves,  “stand  for  the  sea,” 
according  to  Bessie  Jones,  a descend- 
ant of  slaves  from  the  Sea  Islands  of 
Georgia.  “The  sea,”  she  explained, 
“brought  us;  the  sea  shall  take  us 
back.  So  the  shells  upon  our  graves 
stand  for  water,  the  means  of  glory 
and  the  land  of  demise.”  Placing  the 
last  objects  used  by  the  deceased 
upon  the  grave  “lays  the  spirit,”  that 
is,  makes  it  unnecessary  for  the  spirit 
to  return  to  get  them.  Since  these 
were  the  items  touched  last  by  the 
deceased,  his  or  her  spirit  continues 
to  adhere  to  them.  The  person  who 
touches  them  may  receive  power  or 
discernment  to  solve  the  problems  of 
daily  life.  Black  grave  iconography 
signifies  that  “Those  who  are  dead 
are  never  gone  . . . the  dead  are  not 
dead.”  They  live  on  in  the  perspec- 
tives and  the  traditions  which  they 
will  to  their  posterity.  The  wit  and 
wisdom  of  their  lives  endures. 


I have  argued  in  this  lecture  that 
central  aspects  of  West  and  Central 
African  religions  shaped  the  reli- 
gious perspectives  and  behavior  of 
slaves  and  their  descendants  in 
America.  I have  tried  to  suggest  that 
this  was  a dynamic  and  complex 
process.  We  should  not  think  that 

African  culture  was  simply  trans- 
planted or  recreated  on  these  shores. 
The  transmission  of  African  cultures 
involved  discontinuity  as  well  as 
continuity,  and  more  importantly 
continuity  within  the  midst  of  dis- 
continuity. Sometimes  discussions  of 
the  “African  Heritage,”  as  this  topic 
is  frequently  called,  tend  to  reify  the 
notion  of  culture.  Scholars  argue 
about  “Africanisms,”  “cultural 
traits,”  and  “retentions”  as  if  they 
were  artifacts  which  the  slaves  either 
did  or  did  not  smuggle  across  the  At- 
lantic. On  the  contrary,  culture  is  a 
living,  adaptive,  process.  African  re- 
ligions remained  influential  in  the 
lives  of  American  slaves  precisely  be- 
cause they  adapted  and  changed. 

It  is  important  to  remember  that 
even  within  Africa,  traditional  reli- 
gions exhibited  a great  deal  of  resil- 
iency and  capacity  for  change,  due  in 
part  to  the  fact  that  they  were  oral 
instead  of  written  traditions.  Unlike 
Judaism,  Christianity,  and  Islam, 
these  were  not  religions  of  a book. 
Religions  heavily  dependent  upon 
written  texts  tend  to  consider  truth 
in  terms  of  adherence  to  or  deviation 
from  the  texts.  In  contrast,  African 
traditional  religions  tended  to  re- 
spect spiritual  power  wherever  it  oc- 
cured.  Adaptability  rather  than 
orthodoxy  characterized  African  at- 
titudes toward  religion  in  the  New 
World  as  well  as  the  old. 

We  also  need  to  remember  that 
contact  between  different  cultures  is 
also  a dynamic — and  complex — 
process.  Contact  between  Europeans 
and  Africans  in  the  Americas  was 
not  simply  a war  in  which  either  Eu- 
ropean or  African  culture  won.  In- 
stead, European  cultural  forms  were 
reinterpreted  according  to  African 


values  and  African  cultural  forms 
were  reinterpreted  according  to  Eu- 
ropean values.  In  the  case  of  African 
spirit  possession  and  Christian  reviv- 
alism we  have  a case  in  point.  On  the 
other  hand,  culture  contact  simply 
juxtaposes  some  cultural  forms, 
leaving  them  side  by  side,  especially 
when  they  don’t  contradict  one  an- 
other. This  was  the  case  with  the  cult 
of  minkisi  and  Christianity.  The 
magical  medicinal  traditions  of 
Euro-Americans  did  not  compete 
with  the  minkisi  tradition  but  sim- 
ply blended  with  it  and  Christianity 
complemented  instead  of  contradict- 
ing conjure,  at  least  on  the  practical 

We  also  need  to  remember  that 
slaves  were  actively  involved  in  the 
acculturative  process.  They  were  not 
merely  victims  of  a brutal  institu- 
tion, but  also  actors  who  molded 
their  own  lives,  communities,  and 
cultures  despite  slavery’s  restrictions. 
Afro-American  studies  has  uncov- 
ered the  history  of  slaves  as  creative 
participants  in  the  formation  of  their 
culture  and  has  moved  us  toward  a 
clearer  understanding  of  the  influ- 
ence of  Africa  in  the  development  of 
Afro-American  culture.  What  les- 
sons emerge  from  uncovering  Afri- 
can tradition  in  America?  First:  we 
are  accustomed  to  thinking  of  the 
old  world  as  a source  of  American 
religion  and  culture.  But  the  old 
world  we  think  of  tends  to  be  local- 
ized in  the  North  Atlantic,  the  Brit- 
ish Isles,  and  Europe.  We  need  to 
readjust  our  vision  to  include  the  old 
world  influence  emanating  from  the 
South  Atlantic,  Africa.  We  need 


more  research  on  both  sides  of  the 
Atlantic  to  probe  more  fully  the  di- 
mensions of  the  African  Diaspora. 
We’ve  only  just  begun.  Second:  in  a 
pluralistic  world  we  would  do  well 
to  copy  the  ability  of  the  African  tra- 
dition to  accept  and  integrate  spirit- 
ual truth  wherever  it  may  be  found. 
As  the  historic  center  of  Christianity 
shifts  from  Europe  and  North 
America  to  the  Third  World,  this 
may  be  an  increasingly  important 
lesson  to  remember.  Finally,  we,  like 
Felix,  ought  to  appropriate  the 
memory  of  those  long-forgotten  Af- 
ricans who,  despite  all  the  brutality, 
the  suffering,  and  the  sorrow  of  slav- 
ery, kept  and  transmitted  the  wis- 
dom of  their  traditions.  We,  unlike 
Felix,  will  not  remember  them  by 
sacrifice,  but  we  will  remember 
them  by  understanding  and  valuing 
their  legacy.  Let  me  conclude  by  sug- 
gesting that  the  legacy  of  the  orisha 
and  the  minkisi  includes  two  impor- 
tant lessons  of  value  for  us  all:  In  this 
world,  the  divine  is  most  fully  ex- 
pressed, made  real,  in  a word,  em- 
bodied',  in  the  human  person.  We  are 
of  value.  Alran  proverb:  “I  call  upon 
gold,  gold  is  mute.  I call  upon  cloth, 
cloth  is  mute.  It  is  people  who  mat- 
ter.” And  a related  point:  personal 
identity  is  fundamentally  relational, 
i.e.,  our  identity,  our  well-being,  the 
fulfillment  of  our  destinies  depends 
radically  upon  our  relationships 
with  the  other  persons  with  whom 
we  share  life.  In  an  increasingly  im- 
personal and  atomistic  society  these 
are  surely  important  values  to  re- 
member and  to  live  by. 

Teaching:  A Response  to 
“Faith  in  Search  of 

by  Freda  A.  Gardner 

A native  of  Troy,  New  Yoif,  Dr.  Freda 
A.  Gardner  holds  degrees  from  the  State 
University  of  New  Yorf  at  Plattsburgh, 
New  Yoif,  and  the  Presbyterian  School  of 
Christian  Education  in  Richmond,  Vir- 
ginia. A member  of  the  faculty  of  Princeton 
Seminary  since  i()6i,  she  is  also  director  of 
the  seminary's  School  of  Christian  Educa- 
tion. She  was  honored  by  the  Association  of 
Presbyterian  Christian  Educators  in  1981 
as  Christian  Educator  of  the  Year. 

Inaugural  Address 

Dr.  Gillespie  and  other  friends. 
In  the  last  inaugural  address 
given  here,  Professor  Fenn  sug- 
gested that  “collective  expressions  of 
remorse  have  fallen  out  of  fashion.” 
What  then  is  the  meaning  of  our 
gathering  here  on  Ash  Wednesday.  I 

The  day  that  it  became  public  in- 
formation that  I was,  the  Trustees 
and  the  General  Assembly  willing, 
to  become  a full  professor  (a  strange 
and  wonderful  term),  my  friend  and 
mentor  and  former  colleague,  Cam 
Wyckoff,  called  to  offer  his  congrat- 
ulations and  to  remind  me  that  the 
purpose  of  an  inaugural  address  is  to 
make  public  your  plans  for  your  ca- 
reer. Although  I am  a female  person 
of  some  years  and  suffer  not  only 
from  the  threat  of  osteoporosis  but 
from  math  anxiety  as  well,  I was  able 
to  calculate  that  since  more  than 
two-thirds  of  my  career  is  over,  my 
inaugural  address  need  consume 
only  fifteen  or  twenty  minutes,  leav- 
ing me  with  adequate  time  for  some 
other  things  . . . like  chalk  talks, 
small  groups,  role  plays,  and  at  least 
one  malfunctioning  audio-visual. 
Now  lest  you  be  planning  a way  of 
escape,  let  me  assure  you  that  you 
won’t  have  to  risk  or  endure  any  of 

One  of  the  other  things  I want 
very  much  to  do,  and  it  is  not  so 
much  out  of  line  with  the  substance 
of  this  address  as  it  may,  at  first, 
seem,  is  to  express  my  appreciation 
for  four  communities  in  which  I 
have  been  nurtured,  taught,  trans- 
formed, and  tolerated  during  my 
years  at  Princeton. 

First,  the  seminary  community  it- 
self— faculty,  colleagues,  present 
and  past;  administrators,  present 
and  past;  generations  of  students — 
some  of  whom  became  close  friends 
and  some  of  those  who  became  col- 
leagues; people  who,  for  the  most 
part,  have  “womaned”  the  offices; 
people  who  are  the  providers  and 
keepers  of  our  physical  spaces  and 
our  general  well-being — a rich  and 
lively  gathering  of  people  to  love  and 
to  admire,  to  wonder  about  and  to 
cry  with,  to  learn  from  and  with 
about  injustice  and  dis-ease  and 
illusions,  and  also  about  truth  and 
justice  and  grace. 

Then,  the  community  of  faith  that 
gathers  as  the  Nassau  Presbyterian 
church  and  in  which  I found  a place 
to  be  early  in  my  coming  in  Prince- 
ton. A community  of  people  strug- 
gling through  the  years  to  be  the 
church  of  Jesus  Christ  in  which  there 
is  a blending  of  caring  and  account- 



ability,  of  repentance  and  celebra- 
tion, of  teaching  and  testing,  of  risk- 
ing and  supporting,  of  words  and 
music  and  acts  to  lift  the  spirit  and  to 
call  us  to  confession  and  new  com- 
mitment. In  this  community  I have 
learned  from  the  pulpit  and  the 
meeting  room,  from  worship  and 
from  hard  decision-making  more 
about  what  it  is  to  be  the  church  than 
I could  ever  have  learned  in  any 
other  way. 

And  the  community  ot  women — 
faculty  women  and  women  clergy 
and  laywomen  and  women  students, 
Protestant,  Catholic,  Jewish — with 
all  kinds  of  reasons  to  walk  away 
from  the  church  and  from  the  insti- 
tutions of  the  church,  who  have 
nonetheless  remained  and  in  so 
doing  have  helped  me  to  know  my- 
self as  a daughter  of  God  and  a sister 
of  Christ.  To  say  more  about  these 
women  would  be  to  say  less. 

And  finally,  last  but  by  no  means 
least,  the  women  and  men,  the  sepa- 
rated sisters  and  brothers,  C.E.  peo- 
ple and  Reading  Room  staffs  who 
work  out  of  the  Christian  Education 
wing  on  the  Tennent  campus  and 
who,  through  the  years,  have  been 
the  patient,  long-suffering,  delight- 
ful, listening,  affirming  family 
which  always  takes  me  in  and 
which,  individually  and  collectively, 
keeps  on  smiling  through  my  tem- 
per tantrums,  my  anxiety  attacks, 
my  silliness  and  my  humming,  my 
quarterly  breakdowns  (much  like 
my  own  family  has  done  for  even 
more  years) — and  who  are  de- 
servedly more  relieved  that  this  hour 
has  finally  come  and  will  soon  be 
gone  than  even  I am. 

You,  and  those  you  represent, 
have  been  my  teachers  in  exactly  the 
sense  of  that  word  that  I want  to  ad- 

dress today,  and  I hold  you  at  least 
partially  responsible  for  what  1 have 
found  and  what  I know  but  not  at 
fault  for  what  I do  not  yet  under- 

Recognizing  that  there  are  some 
who  don’t  enjoy  a trip  without  a 
map,  let  me  tell  you  what  I intend  to 
say  in  your  hearing.  I have  chosen  to 
reflect  with  you  on  teaching  and  its 
relationship  to  the  search  that  is  in- 
trinsic to  the  life  of  faith.  I will  sug- 
gest that  in  the  church  and  in  the  in- 
stitutions of  the  church  those  who 
are  called  out  to  be  teachers  often 
succumb  to  a vision  of  teaching  that 
is  too  narrow  both  for  the  commu- 
nity of  learners  and  for  the  nature 
and  significance  of  the  search.  I will 
not  be  fair  but  I will  try  to  be  just:  I 
will  be  over-emphasizing  that  which 
should  be  viewed  more  equitably  be- 
cause I believe  that  we  need  to  re-ad- 
dress  and  to  redress  a rather  persist- 
ent imbalance  and  to  face  ourselves, 
we  who  are  teachers,  in  the  kind  of 
personal  confession  and  communal 
repentance  that  can  lead  to  new  life. 

In  focusing  on  teaching,  I hope 
that  you  can  agree,  for  the  time 
being,  that  one  way  to  describe  what 
we  and  others  in  the  church  do  un- 
der that  rubric  is  a response  to  faith 
in  search  of  understanding.  If  you 
can,  then,  of  course,  what  you  think 
and  believe  about  those  terms  is  crit- 
ical. As  many  of  you  know,  even  bet- 
ter than  I,  the  definition  of  any  one 
of  those  terms  could,  in  itself,  consti- 
tute a lifelong  career.  I do  not  pro- 
pose definitions  as  much  as  pic- 
tures— depictions  which  may  lead 
us,  in  conversation  and  in  medita- 
tion, to  a renewed  or  clearer  sense  of 
what  we  mean  by  those  terms. 

My  own  convictions  about  the  na- 
ture of  faith  include  recognition  of  it 


as  a gift  rather  than  an  achievement, 
as  constituting  a life  rather  than  a 
possession  and  a pilgrimage  rather 
than  a goal.  I am  assuming,  with 
enough  heavy-weight  theologians 
behind  me  (and  maybe  a few-  before 
me  and  over  there)  to  make  my  as- 
sumptions worth  considering,  that 
the  search  is  an  intrinsic  part  of  the 
faith  itself.  And,  lest  you  stop  listen- 
ing and  start  defending,  the  faith 
about  which  I speak  is  intrinsically 
related  to  the  God  we  know  in  Jesus 

My  own  experiences  and  my  ob- 
servations of  others  draw  me  to  the 
conclusion  that  any  search,  worthy 
of  the  name  “search,’’  is  more  like  an 
arrow  shot  from  a bow  in  the  hands 
of  a neophyte  archer  than  it  is  like 
that  of  one  from  the  hands  of  an 
Olympic  contender  in  the  sport. 
Hold  in  your  mind's  eye  the  last  time 
you  lost  your  car  or  house  or  room 
key.  If  you  moved  directly  to  where 
it  was,  that  was  no  search.  In  a real 
search,  even  the  most  unflappable 
among  us  appear  strangely 
“flapped.”  And  in  the  instance  we 
are  recalling  we  knew  what  we  were 
looking  for,  a key.  Looking  for 
something,  instead  of  looking  for 
some  thing , wobbles,  dips,  shimmies 
like  the  neophyte’s  arrow.  A search- 
ing faith  is  not  consistently,  if  ever, 
upward  and  onward  with  Jesus, 
bumper  stickers  and  cute  tag  lines  on 
church  bulletins  notwithstanding,  if 
by  that  sentiment  we  mean  to  say 
that  the  path  is  clearly  marked  and 
straight  from  Go  to  Goal.  Searching 
faith,  as  our  history  and  tradition 
would  tell  us,  is  not  often  even  as 
clean  and  clear  as  “two  roads  di- 
verged in  a yellow  wood.”  The 
places  to  look,  the  ways  to  seek,  the 

staccato  bursts  of  frenzied  and  anx- 
ious scanning,  the  perhaps  necessary 
moratorium  on  searching,  the  pro- 
longed and  almost  unconscious  nag- 
ging awareness  of  something  miss- 
ing . . . these  make  only  two  paths 
and  two  ways  to  travel  look  very 
simple,  very  easy. 

Faith  is  not  an  it. 

Faith  is  the  stirring,  the  naming,  the 
touching  of  the  imago  dei  in  us;  it  is 
the  activating  of  our  lifelong  search. 
Faith  happens  in  countless  ways  and 
is  experienced  in  infinite  variety: 

a child  is  named  in  baptism,  sur- 
rounded by  people  who  believe 
on  behalf  of  the  child,  in  that 
child’s  rightful  place  within  the 
community  of  God’s  redeemed 
and  redeeming  people  and  by  a 
people  who  will  encounter  that 
child  henceforth  as  one  of  them 
someone  who’s  got  it  altogether 
experiences  a slight  “tilt”  from 
a well-constructed  equilibrium 
a person  finds  her  or  himself 
pierced  by  a line  in  a book,  an 
image  on  a screen,  a phrase  in  a 
letter,  a view  from  the  air,  a 
collection  of  musical  notes  that 
gives  voice  to  the  sighs  too  deep 
for  words 

a restlessness,  a hunger,  a toe  over 
the  edge,  an  appetizer-size 
taste  of  agony  or  of  ecstasy,  a 
hard  right  to  the  softest  and 
most  easily  bruised  part  of  the 
self,  a minuscule  emptiness  or 
fear  or  pain  hidden  deep,  deep 
beneath  the  “grit-your-teeth” 
or  “whistle-a-happy-tune”  fa- 

an  awareness  that  those  old  words 
are  about  me  and  us,  a realiza- 
tion that  my  torment  is  not 



coming  from  out  there  or  that 
my  sense  of  security  is  not  the 
logical  result  of  the  circum- 
stances of  my  lite 

a guardedness  against  an  en- 
croaching, wondrous  “too- 
much,”  for  the  puny  life  I’ve 
created,  to  bear. 

Faith  is  not  something  defined  for 
me  by  Anselm  or  Barth,  Tillich  or 
Fowler,  a catechism  or  a teacher.  No 
volume,  no  arguments,  no  terms. 
These  have  a place,  to  be  sure,  but, 
often  and  for  some,  it  might  better 
come  later  than  where  we  often 
place  it. 

Faith  is  God’s  calling  to  life  that 
which  God  created,  the  possibility  of 
life  on  God’s  terms. 

And  in  that  is  the  difference  be- 
tween identifying  men  and  wotnen 
as  meaning  makers  and  recognizing 
them  as  those  for  whom  meaning 
has  been  made,'  those  who  have 
been  breathed  into,  given  mouth-to- 
mouth  resuscitation  which  resur- 
rects them  and  brings  them  into  the 

And  that  search  is  for  at-home- 
ness  as  much  and  maybe  more  than 
it  is  for  knowledge.  Not  for  a home 
but  to  be  at  home;  not  to  make  sense 
of  life  but  to  be  in  life,  to  reside  in 
life,  to  dwell  fully  in  the  searching 
that  is  God’s  redemptive  activity  for 
the  whole  of  God’s  creation. 

Faith  that  is  a gift  from  God,  that 
is  searching,  that  is  life  seeks  not  just 
understanding  that  is  primarily  cog- 
nitive but  understanding  that  is  an 
encompassing  of  all  that  makes  one 

' Craig  Dykstra  also  made  this  point  in  his 
inaugural  address,  “Ecclesial  Education,” 
April  1985. 

human  and  particular  and  one  of  a 

Not  just  a way  to  think  but  a way 
to  feel  and  a way  to  will. 

To  “let  this  mind  be  in  you  that 
was  also  in  Christ”  (Phil.  2:5)  is  not 
only  to  think  as  Jesus  thought  but  to 
will  as  FJe  willed  and  to  feel  as  He 
felt.  The  Christian  church  has,  like 
all  institutions,  swung  from  empha- 
sis on  one  of  these  to  emphasis  on  an- 
other. In  periods  of  its  history  and  in 
its  diverse  constituencies,  the  church 
has  pronounced  or  lived  the  convic- 
tion that  the  most  important  aspect 
of  the  life  of  faith  is  this  reason  ...  or 
that  feeling  . . . and  has  known,  like 
we  who  are  the  church,  that  the  way 
to  make  anything  most  important  is 
best  done  by  denying  or  denigrating 
everything  else. 

To  be  at  home  in  God’s  creation  is 
to  be  found  whole  and  to  fit  wholly 
in  the  life  of  God’s  world  and  God’s 

The  understanding  that  faith 
seeks  is  such  that  no  one  aspect  of  life 
tyrannizes  the  others;  that  the  affec- 
tions of  the  heart  do  not  enslave  the 
mind  and  will,  that  knowledge  does 
not  create  a gulf  which  cannot  be 
bridged  to  the  emotions  and  to  in- 
tentions, that  the  commitments  and 
values  of  life  cannot  draw  sustenance 
and  shape  from  sensitivities  and  sen- 

In  saying  this  we  recognize  that 
“faith  that  truly  embraces  itself  and 
the  questions  about  itself’  (Tillich) 
frequently  feels  or  senses  doubt  and 
uncertainty  before  those  take  shape 
as  questions  that  are  known  cogni- 

The  understanding  that  such  a 
faith  seeks  is  the  recognition  that  the 
quest  is  the  life  of  faith.  See  us,  the 



faithful  ask,  as  on  the  way;  move 
over  and  make  a space  for  us  that  we 
may  search  with  you  for  ways  to  be 
about  God’s  life  with  us,  the  re- 
demptive and  redeeming  life  for 
which  we  are  made.  I do  not  think  it 
romanticism  to  see  learners  before 
us,  here  in  this  place  and  in  the 
church,  asking  to  be  understood  as 
persons  of  faith,  to  see  them  as  ask- 
ing at  our  doors  for  entrance  and  for 
sanctuary  for  all  that  cannot  be  left 
outside  the  door  if  faith  is  to  take  us 
into  God’s  redemptive  activity;  sanc- 
tuary for  all  that  gnaws  and  nibbles, 
slashes  and  carves  into  the  faith  that 
is  in  them,  faith  that  is  them.  Stand- 
ing under  faith  is  a supportive  as 
well  as  a submissive  posture.  Stand- 
ing next  and  opening  the  door  to 
sanctuary  is  one  person  being  good 
neighbor  to  another  before  and  dur- 
ing the  time  when  new  ways  of 
being  are  introduced,  when  alterna- 
tive ways  of  seeing  and  other  ways  of 
doing  are  being  lifted  up  and  held 
out.  It  is  a stance  of  equal  helpless- 
ness and  equal  strength — common 
recognition  that  no  matter  how  old 
or  how  far  along  or  how  long  in  the 
search,  the  person  of  faith  is  vulner- 
able to  new  insights,  upsetting 
awarenesses,  blinding  implications, 
overwhelming  glory. 

Faith  searches  for  understand- 
ing— something  to  be  grasped  by  the 
mind  and  the  heart  and  the  will, 
something  to  grasp  them,  a way  to  be 
among  other  searchers,  a place  to  be 
en  route  to  at-homeness,  a place  and 
a time  and  a people  to  be  with  for  the 

And  teaching,  I think,  is  a re- 
sponse to  all  of  that. 

Let  me  shift  the  perspective 

briefly  to  education,  the  context  in 
which  the  teaching  occurs. 

Education,  in  some  form,  is  an  ac- 
tivity of  all  cultures  and  institutions. 
There  are  many  theories  which  at- 
tempt to  explain  the  countless  di- 
mensions and  connections  within 
the  phenomena  which  cluster  under 
the  term  “education.”  Questions  of 
knowledge,  its  source  and  nature,  of 
the  connection  between  learning  and 
teaching,  between  learning  and  be- 
havior, questions  about  the  optimal 
contexts  and  conditions  for  learning, 
and  about  the  variety  of  learning 
styles  identify  only  a few  of  the  var- 
iables that  together  constitute  edu- 
cation. Theories  attempt  to  deal  with 
them  but  the  complexities  of  teach- 
ing and  learning  defy  satisfactory 
definition  and  new  theories  are  con- 
tinually advanced,  shedding  new 
light  on  hitherto  shaded  aspects  of 
either  or  of  the  relationships  be- 
tween them. 

Ashley  Montague,  in  defining  ed- 
ucation, said  that  it  “is  the  art/science 
of  teaching  people  how  to  become 
warm,  loving  human  beings.”2 

For  people  who  function  best  in 
less  precisely  drawn  frameworks, 
Montague’s  description  and  the  im- 
plications drawn  from  it  may  be  as 
provocative  of  reflection  on  practice 
and  especially  on  the  practice  of  the 
Christian  community  as  the  some- 
what more  carefully  drawn  theories 
of  Socrates,  Plato,  Rousseau,  Dewey, 
Skinner,  Rogers,  or  Piaget.  (Think 
of  that  as  a litany  of  some  of  the 

1 “Becoming  Human  in  the  Social  World 
of  Tomorrow,”  an  address  to  the  Conference 
on  Becoming  Truly  Human  (Institute  for 
Child  Study,  University  of  Maryland,  Octo- 
ber 1980). 



saints  in  the  education  field.)  How- 
ever, thus  far,  none,  nor  even  a com- 
bination of  several,  has  proven  to 
take  care  of  all  questions  or  to  give 
direction  for  all  practice  and  cer- 
tainly not  for  the  practice  of  guiding 
faith’s  search  for  understanding. 
The  theological,  biblical,  and  histor- 
ical issues  and  questions  raised  by 
Montague’s  definitions,  for  example, 
could  constitute  months  of  study  and 
reflection  in  any  church  among  any 
group  concerned  with  the  educa- 
tional ministry. 

In  the  church,  given  the  life  of 
discipleship  as  a continuing  quest, 
learning  is  an  essential  part  of  that 
quest.  It  is  the  gift  within  the  gift  of 
faith.  It  is  a gift  which  has  as  a pri- 
mary characteristic  a call  to  com- 
munity; a challenge  to  the  solitary 
seeker  and  to  the  one  who  views 
“just  living”  as  the  way  to  truth.  The 
truth  of  Christ  is  to  be  found  in 
dwelling  within  Christ’s  body  as  that 
body  searches  its  past,  probes  and 
celebrates  and  risks  its  present  exist- 
ence, and  shares  its  vision  for  the  fu- 
ture. Craig  Dykstra  helped  us  to  see 
the  possibilities  for  this  in  his  inau- 
gural address  last  year  and  in  his 
book,  Vision  and  Character. 

Learners  in  the  church  do  not  all 
look  the  same  in  their  search.  I have 
already  tried  to  paint  a reminder  of 
this.  It  is  essential  that  teachers  be 
helped  to  learn  to  recognize  signs  of 
searching  and  that  we  then  disci- 
pline ourselves  to  do  it.  While  some 
learners  will  appear  to  rush  head- 
long into  the  embrace  of  a new  idea, 
others  will  do  all  in  their  power  to 
maintain  a cautious  and  careful  dis- 
tance. Some  will  approach  truth  by 
circling  it  for  a period  that  often  ex- 

ceeds the  patience  of  teachers  and 
parents.  Some  will  oppose  every- 
thing in  order  to  test  something 
while  others  will  take  cover  under 
what  looks  to  the  teacher  to  be  bore- 
dom or  arrogant  disdain.  Some  will 
challenge  or  rebel,  the  digging  in  of 
their  heels  an  antidote  perhaps  to 
those  who  say  amen  to  everything 
from  the  inane  to  the  profound  and 
a salvation  when  teachers  forget  that 
even  they,  we,  see  only  in  part. 
Learners,  if  they  are  indeed  the  bear- 
ers of  the  imago  dei,  are  not  the  ho- 
mogenized clones  of  teachers’  best 
image  of  the  perfect  student  nor  of 
the  perfect  person. 

To  be  at  home,  a goal  of  the 
search,  is  to  be  living  as  Christ  lived 
and,  in  line  with  Barth’s  discussion 
of  vocation,  to  take  Christ’s  goals  as 
our  own.  Being  at  home,  as  I am  us- 
ing it,  is  not  settling  down  or  settling 
for  but  settling  into  a life.  If  that  life 
is  described  as  making  Christ’s  goals 
my  own,  it  is  there  that  1 am  most 
vulnerable,  of  course,  for  to  take  up 
Christ’s  goals  is  to  lay  down  some  of 
my  own.  There,  where  I have  the 
most  to  lose,  is  where  I muster  my 
best  defenses  against  change,  against 
learning.  And  it  is  there,  very  often, 
where  facts  and  reasoned  knowledge 
become  a substitute  for  at-homeness. 
Whether  learner  or  teacher,  we  are 
supported  in  this  culture  and  in  this, 
our  close-to-home  society,  in  taking 
this  way  out.  When  we  do,  and  we 
do,  we  leave  the  obedience  to  truth 
about  which  Parker  Palmer  speaks 
so  convincingly  in  his  book,  To 
Know  as  We  are  Known.  He  argues 
for  obedience  to  truth  which  liber- 
ates from  both  objective  imperialism 
and  subjective  relativism.  Truth  is 



characterized  as  personal  and  com- 
munal, most  simply  and  profoundly 
described  perhaps  in  Jesus’  assertion, 
I am  the  Way,  the  Truth,  and  the 
Life  (John  14:6).  To  seek  truth  and 
to  be  obedient  to  it  is  to  seek  com- 
munity and  not  to  be  tyrannized  by 
any  abstractions  of  it  that  destroy 

When  the  church  can  be  seen,  in 
the  way  I have  been  viewing  it,  as  a 
body  of  seekers  who  from  time  to 
time  are  gathered  for  learning,  it  is 
in  that  gathering,  there,  among  those 
learners  where  some  are  called  to  be 

Some  are  called  to  be  teachers. 
Not  all.  People  who  are  not  any 
more  special  but  who  are  particular 
people.  I-’articular  in  their  gifts.  Par- 
ticular in  what  they  have  been  given 
as  much  as  in  what  they  have  to  give. 
Particular  in  their  personalities,  their 
talents,  their  experience. 

I am  not  a free-standing,  self-ac- 
tualized, independent,  a-historical, 
asexual  person  or  Christian  who 
happens  to  be  a teacher  any  more 
than  any  of  you  are.  Thus  far  in  hu- 
mankind it  still  takes  more  than  one 
to  create  a new  life.  To  be  sure  the 
specifics  of  the  relationships  of  the 
more-than-one  are  undergoing  rad- 
ical changes  but  that  we  are  born  out 
of  community  and  into  community 
can,  I think,  still  be  maintained.  Is 
that  not  a fundamental  characteristic 
of  being  human  as  well  as  one  of  the 
first  things  that  Christian  people  af- 
firm about  life?  I,  like  you,  was  born 
from  and  into  a particular  family 
which  carried  within  it  a history  of 
several  families  and  one  or  more  cul- 
tures. That  I was  a child  of  the 
depression,  speaking  in  historical  not 
psychological  terms,  is  no  more  in- 

cidental to  who  I am  than  the  cir- 
cumstances of  your  birth  and  life  are 
to  you. 

The  imago  dei  in  me  was  pushed 
and  contorted,  poked  and  caressed 
by  others  who  grew  into  themselves 
under  different  circumstances.  Ross 
Snyder,  on  the  faculty  at  Chicago  for 
many  years,  referred  to  this  interac- 
tion as  those  of  trans-fate  genera- 
tions, transactions  among  people 
who  were  shaped  by  very  different 
factors.  Literature  and  research  only 
begin  to  get  at  the  differences  which 
the  social,  political,  economic  reali- 
ties of  one’s  life  make  for  the  person- 
alities, hopes,  values,  ways  of  being 
we  embody. 

Much  of  what  shapes  all  of  us  into 
particular  people  is  exceedingly  pro- 
found and  I do  not  want  to  diminish 
the  significance  of  those  factors, 
events,  and  circumstances  in  any 
way.  But  some  of  what  shapes  us  has 
to  be  viewed  as  important  and  de- 
lightful, occasions  for  wonder, 
maybe  even  parabolic. 

I have  been  amused,  or  maybe  I 
only  amuse  myself,  during  visits  to 
the  campus  of  prospective  faculty 
members,  to  reflect  on  the  process 
we  now  engage  in  and  the  process  of 
my  own  first  visit  and  interview 
here.  I was  in  a church  about  thirty 
miles  from  here,  serving  as  the  direc- 
tor of  Christian  Education.  The  sen- 
ior pastor  left,  the  associate  left  (I 
chose  not  to  take  it  personally)  and 
first,  George  Hendry,  and  then  Bill 
Beeners  were  invited  from  Princeton 
to  be  the  supply  preachers.  Some 
time  after  Bill  and  his  family  and  I 
had  gotten  acquainted,  Bill  asked  if  I 
would  mind  if  he  submitted  my 
name  for  a faculty  vacancy  at  Prince- 
ton. Now  before  I tell  you  about  the 



situation  here  at  the  seminary,  let  me 
tell  you  that  I did  not  perceive  Bill 
then  as  a messenger  from  God,  an 
agent  of  a call  to  teach  at  Princeton. 
If  he  had  asked  me  if  I’d  minded  if 
he  sent  my  name  in  to  fill  out  the  ros- 
ter of  candidates  for  the  Miss  Amer- 
ica pageant  at  Atlantic  City  I'd  have 
probably  said  yes  to  that  too.  (I  al- 
ways did  think  it  would  be  great  if 
one  of  the  lovely  contestants  chose 
for  her  talent  performance  to  teach  a 
Church  School  class  on  the  stage  of 
Convention  Hall.)  For  a number  of 
years  there  had  been  on  the  faculty 
here  a Christian  educator  from  the 
field,  as  we  say,  someone  who  could 
tell  students  what  it  was  really  like 
out  there  and  then  move  on.  For  all 
of  those  years  that  person  was  a 
woman.  Not  a smidgen  of  tokenism 
in  that  though.  First,  almost  all  of 
the  parish  practitioners  out  there 
were  women,  and  second,  tokenism 
suggests  that  someone  had  an  idea 
that  it  would  be  good,  “nice,”  smart 
to  have  at  least  one  of  something  else 
around  and  that  seemed  not  to  be  the 
case,  at  least  as  far  as  I could  see.  One 
thing  that  led  me  to  that  conclusion, 
in  retrospect,  was  the  invitation  that 
I received  in  the  mail  before  I ever 
got  here,  asking  me  to  indicate  with 
which  colleague  I intended  to  room 
at  the  upcoming  faculty  retreat. 
There  was  little  consciousness  of  a 
token  female  revealed  in  that. 

This  was  a Princeton  I’d  never 
heard  about.  At  the  time  of  my  inter- 
view, I had  a conversation  with  the 
president  and  then  I was  taken  by 
the  search  committee  to  lunch.  I was 
taken  by  three  old-school  gentlemen, 
Bruce  Metzger,  Elmer  Homrighau- 
sen,  and  Campbell  Wyckoff,  to  the 
Princeton  Inn,  now  Princeton  Inn 

College.  What  they  had  obviously 
not  known,  until  we  were  seated  in 
that  beautiful  dining  room,  was  that 
it  was  P-rade  Day  at  the  University. 
P-rade  Day,  for  any  newcomers,  de- 
fies description.  Suffice  it  to  say  that 
we  were  the  only  sober  and  uncom- 
fortable people  in  the  room  and  I 
was  bothered  for  a long  time  about 
whether  anything  that  was  said  by 
anyone  made  any  sense  at  all.  Some 
of  my  experiences  here  and  some  of 
my  behaviors  have  been,  I believe, 
directly  related  to  that  interview  ex- 
perience. I had  not  set  my  face  to 
come  here  or  to  go  anywhere  else.  I 
loved  what  I was  doing.  Remember 
it  was  one  of  the  prime  times  of  the 
church’s  life  in  this  century — 
churches  were  filled  to  overflowing, 
there  were  scores  of  tall  steeple  peo- 
ple whose  names  were  recognized  by 
more  than  their  own  congregations, 
theological  giants  were  everywhere, 
ho-ho-hoing  in  the  original  big- 
think  languages,  church  buildings 
were  going  up  as  fast  as  had  the 
quonset  huts  which  had  housed  the 
new  families  that  were  now  ready 
for  church  life  in  abundance.  Why 
wouldn’t  I have  loved  it?  What  I 
came  from  and  how  I came  to  be 
here,  the  interview  included,  surely 
made,  and  may  still  make,  a differ- 
ence in  the  way  I am  here.  Your 
story,  even  if  you  did  it  all  the  right 
way  with  the  right  stuff,  has  a 
uniqueness  to  it  that  shapes  the  way 
you  are  here  and  the  ways  you  are  in 
the  larger  world.  Parables,  lived  into 
or  out  of,  do  that,  don’t  they? 

Teaching  is,  for  many  of  us  here, 
an  expression  of  our  vocation,  one  of 
the  ways  we  live  as  disciples  of  Jesus 
Christ.  I find  it  more  useful  to  re- 
serve the  word  vocation  for  our  call- 



ing  to  be  Christ’s  disciples  and  to  see 
teaching,  parenting,  being  neigh- 
borly, preaching,  keeping  order,  till- 
ing the  earth,  and  the  like  as  expres- 
sions of  that  calling,  that  vocation. 
To  equate  vocation  with  occupation 
seems  to  me  to  let  us  off  an  impor- 
tant hook;  it  gives  license  to  busy 
people  to  ignore  family  or  commu- 
nity, to  be  Christ’s  woman  or  man  on 
the  job  and  something  else  at  home 
or  on  vacation  or  in  the  midst  of 
other  powers  and  principalities. 
Viewed  as  one  of  the  ways  of  being 
Christ’s  disciple  in  the  life  that  is 
mine,  and  like  other  expressions  of 
discipleship,  teaching  does  become  a 
way  of  being  that  goes  beyond  the 
so-called  “on-duty”  hours  of  a job 
but  does  not  crowd  out  the  other 
ways  of  being  to  which  I am  also 

The  word  “some”  in  the  phrase, 
“some  are  called  to  be  teachers” 
(Eph.  4:11),  and  the  phrase  that  in- 
dicates that  not  all  are  called  to  be 
teachers  (I  Cor.  12:29)  suggest  an  ap- 
propriate tension  between  them  and 
the  oft-quoted  “go  ye  into  all  the 
world  and  teach”  (Matt.  28:19).  The 
juxtaposition  of  these  biblical  teach- 
ings may  call  our  attention  to  our 
tendency  to  see  teaching  as  individ- 
ual activity  instead  of  an  activity 
mandated  to  the  body  of  Christ,  in 
which  body,  some  are  called  to  teach. 

How  much  more  simple  it  would 
be  for  the  theorists  of  education,  for 
pastors  and  education  directors,  for 
deans  and  faculties  if  the  qualifica- 
tions of  a teacher  could  be  neatly 
lined  out  and  the  closeness  of  the  fit 
of  every  mortal  be  readily  observed. 

Looking  out  at  all  of  you  I dare 
say  that  no  one  need  feel  excluded  if 
I ask  you  to  picture  in  your  mind’s 

eye,  as  an  illustration  of  a point,  the 
faculty  of  Princeton  Seminary.  (I  ex- 
pect that  everyone  here  knows  at 
least  a few  of  us.)  A many-splen- 
dored  thing  to  be  sure.  Stand  us  in  a 
line  and  point  a finger  at  us  and  say 
“teach”  and  see  how  funny  and  won- 
derful it  would  all  be,  how  wonder- 
ful and  comic  it  all  is.  There  we 
would  be — gifted  for  our  disciple- 

personalities — all  that  makes 

each  of  us  unique 

peculiar  talents  (and  some  are 
truly  peculiar) — abilities  and 
capacities  to  be  in  and  with  the 

experiences — our  education,  life 
moments,  disciplines 

and  each  working  in  some  way  to  be 
a good  steward  of  all  of  that. 

Good  research,  good  visioning, 
good  listening  inevitably  leads  to  the 
teacher  as  the  single  most  significant 
factor  in  learning  and  education.  We 
can  revise  the  curriculum,  take  the 
teachers  off  the  Stuart  Hall  stages 
and  rearrange  the  furniture  (and  no 
one  will  be  more  glad  than  I am 
about  that)  but  the  effectiveness  of 
Princeton’s  education  will  finally  be 
determined  by  the  kind  of  teachers 
we  and  our  successors  are  together. 
And  the  same  holds  true  in  the 
teaching  ministry  of  the  congrega- 

What  does  such  teaching  look 
like?  Let  me  suggest  some  possibili- 

It  has  everything  to  do  with  disci- 
plines and  with  discipline,  with  both 
the  content  of  a field  of  inquiry  and 
the  equally  demanding  discipline  of 
living  within  the  search  that  is  faith 



that  any  of  our  disciplines  illumines. 

It  has  less  to  do  with  methods  cho- 
sen and  more  to  do  with  how  we  can 
dwell  faithfully  in  them.  Faithful  to 
the  redemptive  activity  of  God.  Not, 
for  example,  teaching  about  justice 
by  means  of  a variety  of  effective 
methods  but  living  together  justly  in 
the  classroom,  retreat,  workshop, 

It  has  more  to  do  with  our  being 
hospitable  like  good  hosts  and  less  to 
do  with  watching  and  guarding  like 
sentries.  Hospitable  to  people  and  to 
ideas,  treating  them  with  the  respect 
we  usually  reserve  for  guests  in  our 
homes  and  continuing  to  treat  them 
hospitably  as  long  as  they  do  not  vi- 
olate others. 

It  has  more  to  do  with  being  just 
and  less  to  do  with  being  fair,  more 
to  do  with  being  the  community  of 
those  on  which  God  sends  the  rain 
and  less  to  do  with  being  a democ- 
racy, more  to  do  with  carrying  the 
wounded  and  less  to  do  with  the 
thrill  of  competing  with  a worthy 
combatant.  To  teach  like  this  could 
make  affirmative  action  unnecessary 
and  particular  courses  on  special  in- 
terests in  the  seminary  and  particu- 
lar actions  in  the  church  obsolete. 

It  has  more  to  do  with  listening  to 
what  life  seems  to  have  taught  some- 
one and  reflecting  on  that  together 
and  less  to  do  with  telling  others 
what  or  how  life  ought  to  be. 

It  has  more  to  do  with  we — as  in 
risking,  challenging,  holding  ac- 
countable, repenting,  confessing — 
and  far  less  to  do  with  I — as  in  de- 
claring, naming,  categorizing,  judg- 
ing, evaluating. 

It  has  much  to  do  with  passion  for 
a discipline  and  for  a methodology, 
with  taking  disciplined  responsibil- 

ity for  knowing  what  Athanasius  or 
Deborah  or  Fosdick  or  Cobb  is  about 
and  how  they  fit  in  to  the  search, 
with  a recognition  that  disciplines 
and  methodologies  are  a means  to 
search  for  understanding  and  seeing 
them  thus,  to  be  free  to  be  so  passion- 
ate that  one  may  get  called  a history 
freak  or  a language  loon  or  a pastoral 
pinko  but  never  with  the  connota- 
tion that  that  is  all  that  you  are. 

It  has  much  to  do  with  exposing 
our  prejudices  and  what  we  do  not 
know,  with  finding  ways  together  to 
enter  into  silence  and  to  live  ecstati- 
cally with  questions  because  they 
shape  the  contours  of  our  searching 

It  has  to  do  with  taking  a step 
away  from  one’s  own  way  of  learn- 
ing— a large  enough  step  so  that  you 
can  acknowledge  that  once  or  twice 
you  came  to  understanding  by  other 
than  your  accustomed  and  publicly 
demonstrated  route.  Don't  we  some- 
times pretend  even  to  ourselves? 
The  educator’s  equivalent  to  the 
myth  of  the  self-made  man  (women 
know  for  sure  that  no  one  yet  was 
ever  made  that  way)  is  the  myth  that 
STAND. Whoever  learned  to  love 
by  way  of  a rational  argument  (to 
know  one  who  thinks  he/she  did  is 
to  know  the  truth  of  the  illustra- 
tion)? or  learned  to  do  word  process- 
ing  by  loving  the  color  green?  or 
learned  to  ride  a horse  by  reading  a 
book?  A way  for  teachers  to  take  a 
step  away  from  their  own,  perhaps 
narrow,  views  of  the  ways  of  learn- 
ing is  for  us  to  become  students 
again.  Not  for  me  to  take  another 
course  in  Christian  education,  al- 
though for  other  reasons  that  would 



be  desirable,  but  to  become  a student 
of  a different  way  of  learning.  Even 
if  you  don’t  stay  at  it  too  long,  a taste 
may  be  enough.  To  feel,  again  or  for 
the  first  time,  that  you  are  the  only 
one  who  doesn't  know  the  script,  to 
perceive  the  language  and  symbols 
as  created  for  the  sole  purpose  of  ex- 
cluding you,  to  fall  behind  and  de- 
spair of  ever  catching  up,  to  know 
the  impatience  of  the  fleet  of  foot  or 
tongue  or  hand  or  mind  as  you  stam- 
mer, founder,  try  to  explain,  hide,  or 
bluster.  Yoga  and  the  clarinet  shook 
me  up  in  the  days  I tried  to  give  my- 
self to  them  and  it  only  takes  a few 
moments  of  recollection  to  bring 
back  the  sweaty  palms  and  the 
“hang  in  there”  internal  monologues 
of  those  unsettling  moments.  Learn- 
ing styles  and  disciplines  come  re- 
plete with  language,  action,  se- 
quence, values  . . . and  power  for 
those  in  the  know.  Liberation  theol- 
ogies and  pedagogies  and  move- 
ments have  done  for  some  of  us  what 
simply  living  in  a pluralistic  world 
never  accomplished  but  some  came 
to  the  truth  by  sharing  the  realities  of 
that  living.  Giving  credibility  to  an- 
other’s experience  and  way  of  being 
does  not  rob  me  of  my  own,  nor  is  it 
so  seductive  that  I cannot  interact 
with  it  without  great  fear  that  I will 
get  lost.  Interactive  teaching  strate- 
gies and  collaborative  learning  seem 
so  much  more  compatible  with 
faith’s  search  for  understanding.  For 
all  those  whose  stories  are  not  in- 
cluded in  the  content  or  method  of 
what  we  would  teach,  such  strategies 
and  ways  of  being  together  are  es- 
sential and  naming  the  world 
(Freire)  or  better  said,  perhaps,  dis- 
covering and  naming  the  world,  that 
is,  developing  a language,  and  expos- 

ing the  heretofore  only  way  to  see  are 
some  of  the  activities  of  that  process. 
It  takes  longer  to  be  sure  and  not 
everyone  knows  the  most  effective 
ways  to  do  it  but  the  ways  can  be 
learned  and,  at  length,  we  will  have 
become  a community  which  knows 
better  how  to  participate  in  God’s 
community-building  activity.  And  it 
is  often  when  the  stories  are  told  and 
the  power  shared  that  the  concepts 
of  our  particular  community  and  of 
our  communities  of  discourse  may 
best  be  explored,  delineated,  and  re- 
lated to  other  relevant  concepts  and 
emerging  beliefs  supported  and 
acted  upon. 

And,  of  course,  it  points  to  teach- 
ing that  includes  a lot  of  listening. 
Hard  for  the  go-getters,  hard  for 
those  who  know,  hard  for  clock- 
watchers, hard  for  the  very  articulate 
or  those  whose  stories  have  been 
worshipped  and  enshrined  from  the 
beginning  and  therefore  need  re- 
peating only  occasionally.  Hard  too 
for  those  who  believe  that  God 
teaches  only  or  best  by  telling.  Tell- 
ing or  talking  is  seen  as  active,  ag- 
gressive, commanding,  confronting, 
and  listening  (active  listening  being 
an  attempt  to  change  this  percep- 
tion) as  passive,  responsive,  receiv- 
ing. To  say  it  more  crassly  and  in  the 
way  most  of  us  learned  it,  telling  is 
masculine  and  listening  is  feminine, 
but  it  need  not  be  that  way.  Margaret 
Fuller,  a theologian,  used  the  bless- 
ing and  prayer,  “May  God  preserve 
you  until  the  word  of  your  life  is 
fully  spoken”  and  it  can  be  read  as  if 
it  is  a plea  for  time  for  you  to  tell  it 
all  or  it  may  be  read  another  way.  An 
illustration:  twenty  years  ago  Cam 
Wyckoff  and  Randolph  Crump 
Miller  of  Yale  and  Ellis  Nelson  of 


Union  decided  it  would  be  good  for 
Christian  education  professors  in  the 
northeast  to  meet  together,  and  so 
began  a loose  knit  organization  that 
still  meets  every  spring  and  brings 
forty  to  fifty  Protestant  and  Catholic 
seminary  teachers  here  to  Princeton 
for  two  days.  In  the  beginning  the 
group  was  very  small  and  I was  one 
of  two  women  in  it.  The  other  was 
Nell  Morton  from  Drew  who  has 
just  published  her  autobiography  at 
the  age  of  eighty-plus.  Nell  was  a 
daughter  of  the  old  and  true  South. 
She  was  less  awed  by  the  big  guns  in 
C.E.  than  I was  and  I remember  dis- 
tinctly the  first  thing  she  said  at  our 
first  gathering.  After  listening  for 
quite  a while,  Nell  broke  in,  saying, 
“this  morning  while  I was  at  the 
beauty  parlor. . . .”  She  went  on  but  I 
died  inside.  How  could  she?  Can 
anything  good  come  from  an  ap- 
pointment at  the  beauty  parlor?  As 
the  years  went  on  and  I got  to  know 
her  better  I realized,  before  she  ever 
articulated  it  herself,  that  she  was 
talking  her  way  into  truth.  Later,  in 
a course  on  feminism  which  she 
asked  me  to  teach  with  her  at  Drew, 
she  suggested  that  God  may  hear  us 
into  existence.  That  God  could  re- 
ceive our  faltering,  wandering  at- 
tempts to  say  who  we  are,  what  is 
going  on  in  us,  how  it  seems  to  us, 
where  we  think  we’re  going,  and 
where  we’re  afraid  to  go  seems,  in 
part,  an  open  invitation  to  what  Jim 
Loder  has  so  compellingly  described 
as  the  movement  into  the  void,  the 
facing  of  that  which  scarces  us  or  en- 
slaves us  and  there  to  be  encountered 
by  the  Holy,  the  God  we  know  in  Je- 
sus Christ.  Listening  with  respect  is 
hospitable  and,  I believe,  intrinsic  to 
the  teaching  that  is  a response  to 


faith  in  search  of  understanding. 
What  would  it  look  like?  Teaching 
that  is  inclusive  of  many  learning 
styles,  that  loves  the  seeker  enough 
to  listen  and  therefore  to  make  space 
for  the  seeker  to  speak,  not  in  order 
to  pounce  with  The  Truth,  but  that 
the  poetic  and  the  scientific,  the  cal- 
culated and  the  intuited  may  touch 
each  other  and  find  the  truth  among 
them.  It  surely  points  to  Parker’s 
consensual  learning,  to  teaching  that 
sees  a transformed  community  as  in- 
finitely more  efficient  in  the  econ- 
omy of  God’s  kingdom-building 
than  the  quickly  arrived  at  conclu- 
sion of  a singly  owned  articulation.  It 
separates  the  classroom  of  a com- 
munity of  learners  from  almost  all 
the  other  gatherings  in  our  society  in 
its  disavowal  of  glibness.  Our  world 
expects  the  tax  consultant,  the  presi- 
dent of  the  United  States,  the  sur- 
geon performing  a lifesaving  new 
procedure,  the  police  officer  testify- 
ing at  a trial,  to  have  instant  re- 
sponses on  absolutely  everything  and 
preferably  to  couch  them  in  witti- 
cism or  double  entendre.  The  meet- 
ing place  of  searchers  for  under- 
standing has  space  for  I wonder,  I 
don’t  know,  let’s  think  about  that.  It 
has  space  for  I do  not  know  and  for 
I need  to  know  more. 

It  looks  like  a community  of 
learners  who  know  that  justice  often 
calls  for  action  before  all  the  facts  are 
in,  before  everyone  can  get  on  board, 
before  all  the  implications  have  been 
weighed,  before  we  can  be  sure  that 
no  one  can  ever  call  us  foolhardy  or 
lightweight  or  undisciplined.  It  is 
hard  to  find  in  Scripture  or  church 
history  an  act  of  justice  that  could 
have  been  justified  by  the  criteria 
suggested  by  the  cautious  knowl- 



edgeable  ones  of  the  day.  And  so 
sometimes  teaching  for  faith  in 
search  of  understanding  must  bal- 
ance discipline  with  courage,  thor- 
oughness with  readiness  and  timeli- 
ness, with  getting  out  of  the  way  if 
you  can’t  go  along  the  way,  forgive- 
ness with  foresight. 

It  looks  like  a community  of  peo- 
ple who  may  be  better  read  by  the 
Bible  because  they  have  known 
themselves  to  be  at-home  as  search- 
ers and  thereby  can  believe  that  the 
“them’’  of  Scripture  is  the  “us”  of  Bi- 
ble students  and  scholars. 

The  marks  of  this  teaching  for 
faith  in  search  of  understanding  are 
many  and  can  only  be  brought  to  life 
as  teachers  in  the  church  and  in  the 
church’s  institutions  reflect  on  their 
ways  of  knowing,  reflect  on  their 
hopes  for  their  students,  explore 
more  fully  and  continually  the  ways 
of  participating  in  the  search  that  be- 
gins and  ends  for  all  of  us  in  God’s 
redemptive  activity. 

And  I draw  to  a conclusion  with 
two  such  reflective  explorations 
which  may  be  content  for  a continu- 
ing discussion  and  in  which  some 
truth  may  be  discovered  in  our 

In  a book  Religious  Education 
Ministry  with  Youth , edited  by 
Campbell  Wyckoff  and  Don  Rich- 
ter, a current  doctoral  student  here,  a 
contributor  to  the  book,  Roger 
Paine,  wrote  as  an  ending  to  his  de- 
scription of  ministry  with  youth: 

Richard  Farson  tells  a nice 
story  about  a consulting  job  he 
did  for  the  park  service.  The  park 
maintenance  crews  were  upset. 

They  were  upset  because  the 

park  management  was  dis- 
satisfied with  the  way  they 
were  cleaning  up  the  camp 
sites  after  people  left. 

It  seems  that  management 
wanted  all  the  trash  picked 
up  and  they  wanted  the  sites 
raked  in  between  occupants. 
Some  members  of  the  main- 
tenance crew  felt  that  pick- 
ing up  the  trash  was  enough. 

Farson  asked  the  group:  “You 
mean  they  want  to  be  able  to 
see  rake  marks  on  the 
ground  once  you’re 

And  they  said  yes,  that  was  it. 

And  he  couldn’t  help  but 

You  know,  if  I were  a 
camper  just  arriving  at  a 
camp  site  I’d  like  to  see 
rake  marks. 

It  would  be  reassuring — 
a clear  sign  that  someone 
who  really  cared  had  been 

There  is  such  a thing  as  civility. 

There  is  such  a thing  as  style 
and  grace. 

There  is  such  a thing  as  doing 
what  we  do  very,  very  well. 

I am  an  optimist,  but  even  if  I 
were  a pessimist  I would 
point  out  that  when  the  last 
life  boat  was  lowered  from 
the  decks  of  the  Titanic, 
Benjamin  Guggenheim 
went  below  and  changed 
into  evening  clothes. 

I would  like  never  to  give  up 
when  they  think  I’m  going 

And  I would  like  to  leave  some 
rake  marks  behind. 



And  from  The  Log  of  the  Sea  of  Cor- 
tez by  John  Steinbeck,  an  excerpt 
given  to  me  by  a student  a few  years 

I have  tried  to  isolate  and  in- 
spect the  great  talent  that  was  in 
Ed  Ricketts,  that  made  him  so 
loved  and  needed  and  makes  him 
so  missed  now  that  he  is  dead. 
Certainly  he  was  an  interesting 
and  charming  man,  but  there  was 
some  other  quality  which  tar  ex- 
ceeded these.  I have  thought  that 
it  might  be  his  ability  to  receive,  to 
receive  anything  from  anyone,  to 
receive  gracefully  and  thankfully 
and  to  make  the  gift  seem  very 
fine.  Because  of  this  everyone  felt 
good  in  giving  to  Ed — a present, 
a thought,  anything. 

Perhaps  the  most  overrated 
virtue  in  our  list  of  shoddy  virtues 
is  that  of  giving.  Giving  builds  up 
the  ego  of  the  giver,  makes  [the 
giver]  superior  and  higher  and 
larger  than  the  receiver. ...  It  is  so 
easy  to  give,  so  exquisitely  re- 
warding. Receiving,  on  the  other 
hand,  if  it  be  well  done,  requires  a 
fine  balance  of  self-knowledge 
and  kindness.  It  requires  humility 
and  tact  and  great  understanding 
of  relationships.  In  receiving  you 
cannot  appear,  even  to  yoursell, 
better  or  stronger  or  wiser  than 
the  giver,  although  you  must  be 
wiser  to  do  it  well. 

It  requires  a self-esteem  to  re- 
ceive— not  sell-love  but  just  a 
pleasant  acquaintance  and  liking 
for  oneself 

Once  Ed  said  to  me,  “For  a 
very  long  time  I didn’t  like  my- 
self” It  was  not  said  in  sell-pity 

but  simply  as  an  unfortunate  fact. 
“It  was  a very  dilficult  time,”  he 
said,  “and  very  painlul.  I did  not 
like  myself  for  a number  of  rea- 
sons, some  of  them  valid  and 
some  of  them  pure  lancy.  I would 
hate  to  have  to  go  back  to  that. 
Then  gradually,"  he  said,  “I  dis- 
covered with  surprise  and  pleas- 
ure that  a number  of  people  did 
like  me.  And  I thought,  if  they 
can  like  me,  why  cannot  I like 
myself?  Just  thinking  it  did  not 
do  it,  but  slowly  I learned  to  like 
myself  and  then  it  was  all  right.” 

This  was  not  said  in  self-love  in 
its  bad  connotation  but  in  self- 
knowledge.  He  meant  literally 
that  he  had  learned  to  accept  and 
like  the  person  “Ed"  as  he  liked 
other  people. 

Ed’s  gift  for  receiving  made 
him  a great  teacher.  Children 
brought  shells  to  him  and  gave 
him  information  about  the  shells. 
And  they  had  to  learn  before  they 
could  tell  him. 

In  conversation  you  found 
yourself  telling  him  things — 
thoughts,  conjectures,  hy- 
potheses— and  you  found  a 
pleased  surprise  at  yourself  for 
having  arrived  at  something  you 
were  not  aware  that  you  could 
think  or  know.  It  gave  you  such  a 
good  sense  of  participation  with 
him  that  you  could  present  him 
with  this  wonder. 

Then  Ed  would  say,  “Yes, 
that’s  so.  That’s  the  way  it  might 
be  and  besides — ” and  he  would 
illuminate  it  but  not  so  that  he 
took  it  away  Irom  you.  He  simply 
accepted  it. 

Although  his  creativeness  lay 



in  receiving,  that  does  not  mean 
that  he  kept  things  as  property. 
When  you  had  something  from 
him  it  was  not  something  that 
was  his  that  he  tore  away  from 
himself.  When  you  had  a thought 
from  him  or  a piece  of  music  or  a 
steak  dinner,  it  was  not  his — it 
was  yours  already,  and  his  was 
only  the  head  and  hand  that  stead- 
ied it  in  position  toward  you. 
For  this  reason  no  one  was  ever 
cut  off  from  him.  Association 
with  him  was  deep  participation 
with  him,  never  competition. 

What  I plan  to  do  with  however 
much  career  I have  left  is  to  keep  on 
teaching,  to  keep  on  knowing  you 
and  others  as  my  teachers  and  fellow 
searchers  for  understanding,  and, 
most  of  the  time,  to  keep  on  enjoying 

I did  not  refer  to  you  as  honored 
guests  at  the  beginning  because  it  is  I 
who  am  honored  in  your  being  here. 
What  I will  remember  in  the  days 
and  years  ahead  is  not  what  I did  to- 
day but  that  you  were  here  as  so 
many  of  you  have  been  and  are  every 
day  and  I give  thanks  to  God  for  all 
of  you.  Thank  you  for  coming. 

Augustine,  St.  The  Enchiridion  On 
Faith,  Hope  And  Love.  (Chicago: 
Henry  Regnery  Co.,  1961). 

Barth,  Karl.  Church  Dogmatics , 
Vol.  IV,  Part  3,  Second  Half. 
(Edinburgh:  T.  & T.  Clark,  1962). 

Brueggemann,  Walter.  The  Crea- 
tive Word;  Canon  As  A Model  For 
Biblical  Education.  (Philadelphia: 
Fortress  Press,  1982). 

Cully  & Portuges  (eds.).  Gendered 
Subjects;  The  Dynamics  Of  Femin- 
ist Teaching.  (Boston:  Routledge  & 
Regan  Paul,  1985). 

Eble,  Kenneth.  The  Craft  of  Teach- 
ing; A Guide  To  Mastering  The 
Professor’s  Art.  (San  Francisco:  Jos- 
sey-Bass,  Inc.,  1976). 

Gadamer,  H.  G.  Truth  And 
Method.  (New  York:  Seabury 

Press,  1975). 

Gilkey,  Langdon.  Religion  And 
The  Scientific  Future.  (New  York: 
Harper  & Row,  1970). 

Little,  Sara.  To  Set  One's  Heart; 
Belief  And  Teaching  In  The 
Church.  (Atlanta:  John  Knox 

Press,  1983). 

McFague,  Sallie.  Metaphorical 
Theology:  Models  Of  God  In  Reli- 
gious Language.  (Philadelphia: 
Fortress  Press,  1982). 

Nouwen,  Henri  J.  M.  “Living  the 
Questions:  The  Spirituality  of  the 
Religion  Teacher”  in  Union  Sem- 
inary Quarterly  Review,  Vol. 
XXXII,  No.  1,  Fall  1976. 

Palmer,  Parker.  To  Know  As  We 
Are  Known! A Spirituality  Of  Edu- 
cation. (San  Francisco:  Harper  & 
Row,  1983). 

Polanyi,  Michael.  Personal  Knowl- 
edge. (Chicago:  University  of  Chi- 
cago Press,  1958). 

Tillich,  Paul.  Biblical  Religion  And 
The  Search  For  Ultimate  Reality. 
(Chicago:  University  of  Chicago 
Press,  1955). 

Tillich,  Paul.  Dynamics  Of  Faith. 
(New  York:  Harper  & Row, 

1 957)- 

Wyckoff  & Richter  (eds.).  Religious 
Education  Ministry  With  Youth. 
(Birmingham:  Religious  Educa- 
tion Press,  1982). 

Expanding  and 
Enhancing  the  Moral 
Communities:  The  Task 
of  Christian  Social 

by  Peter  J.  Paris 



The  problem  this  lecture  ad- 
dresses is  the  possibility  of  ex- 
panding and  enhancing  moral  com- 
munities not  to  promote  any 
imperial  enterprise  but  to  increase 
justice  for  all  concerned.  Assuming 
the  desirability  of  this  objective  we 
find  ourselves  in  search  for  the  nec- 
essary conditions  that  make  it  possi- 
ble. In  other  words,  assuming  a vast 
plurality  of  moral  communities  in 
our  nation  and  world,  and  assuming 
a general  abhorrence  for  all  forms  of 
imperial  hegemony  that  have  all  too 
often  attended  such  expansion  in  the 
past,  our  aim  is  to  discern  the  way  in 
which  justice  can  be  achieved,  en- 
hanced, and  preserved  in  the  expan- 
sion of  moral  communities.  In  our 
judgment,  this  subject  constitutes 
the  most  important  ethical  problem 
confronting  the  modern  world, 
namely,  how  confiictual  moral  com- 
munities can  achieve  unity  with  jus- 
tice for  all  concerned.  It  is  the  prob- 
lem implied  by  the  existing  conflicts 

A native  of  New  Glasgow,  Nova  Scotia, 
Dr.  Peter  J.  Paris  holds  degrees  from  Aca- 
dia University  in  Nova  Scotia  and  the  Uni- 
versity of  Chicago.  He  was  ordained  by  the 
African  United  Baptist  Association  of  the 
Atlantic  United  Baptist  Convention  in 
Canada.  Pans  served  as  general  secretary  of 
the  Student  Christian  Movement  of  Can- 
ada at  the  University  of  Alberta  from  1958- 
61  and  as  national  traveling  secretary  for 
the  Student  Christian  Movement  of  Ni- 
geria from  1961-64.  Formerly  professor  of 
ethics  and  society  at  Vanderbilt  Divinity 
School,  he  joined  the  faculty  of  Princeton 
Seminary  in  July  1985.  He  is  the  author  of 
Black  Leaders  in  Conflict,  and  the  forth- 
coming volume,  The  Social  Teaching  of 
the  Black  Churches. 


among  the  first,  second,  and  third 
worlds;  between  the  rich  and  the 
poor;  men  and  women;  black  and 
white;  Christianity  and  other  reli- 
gions; majority  and  minority  groups 
wherever  they  are  found.  In  brief, 
the  primary  locus  of  this  problem  is 
moral  conflict  as  expressed  in  the 
many  and  varied  structural  inequal- 
ities caused  by  racism,  sexism,  pov- 
erty, and  all  other  forms  of  human 

This  inquiry  focusses  on  the  ques- 
tion whether  or  not  moral  commu- 
nities have  a natural  impulse  to  fos- 
ter the  good  of  other  groups  in  an 
unselfish  way.  In  other  words  we  are 
concerned  about  the  capacity  of 
moral  groups  to  do  justice  towards 
other  moral  groups.  To  this  end,  we 
will  demonstrate  how  traditional 
family  and  tribal  communities  along 
with  most  voluntary  associations  are 
necessarily  resistant  to  our  project. 
Our  argument  will  then  proceed  to  a 
discussion  of  the  necessary  condi- 
tions that  enable  one  moral  commu- 



nity  to  embrace  other  communities 
in  just  ways.  Following  a brief  as- 
sessment of  the  resources  within 
Christianity  that  could  contribute  to 
the  resolution  of  this  problem,  the 
lecture  will  end  by  pointing  to  two 
contemporary  institutions  that  illus- 
trate the  resolution  we  advocate.  But 
first  of  all,  let  us  set  forth  in  broad 
outline  our  method  in  Christian  So- 
cial Ethics. 

Christian  Social  Ethics  as  a 
Practical  Science 

The  quality  of  human  relation- 
ships constitutes  the  moral  dimen- 
sion of  human  life  and,  hence,  the 
subject  matter  of  social  ethics.  Mo- 
rality pertains  to  the  activity  of  doing 
the  good  and  becoming  good. 
Knowledge  of  morality  for  the  sake 
of  enhancing  its  quality  is  the  aim  of 
social  ethics.  In  other  words,  know- 
ing the  good  that  humans  can  do  for 
the  sake  of  enhancing  the  good  and 
becoming  good  is  the  whole  of  ethi- 
cal inquiry.' 

The  breadth  of  moral  relation- 
ships is  considerable,  ranging  mini- 
mally from  the  encounter  of  two 
persons  with  each  other  to  the  ever 
increasing  complexity  of  relations  in 
familial,  tribal,  national,  and  inter- 
national communities.  In  fact,  a sine 
qua  non  for  moral  relations  is  the 
condition  of  plurality.  It  is  important 
to  keep  in  mind,  however,  that  hu- 
man relationships  are  not  limited  to 
face-to-face  encounters.  They  can  be 
indirect,  as  in  the  case  of  an  officer 
transmitting  orders  to  a subordinate 
or  a pilot  releasing  bombs  over  a 

' Here  we  acknowledge  our  indebtedness 
to  Aristotle  who  first  classified  ethics  as  a 
practical  science. 

prearranged  target  area.  In  any  case, 
all  human  relationships  are  moral 
relations  because  they  exhibit  a cer- 
tain quality  and,  consequently,  every 
human  community  is  a moral  com- 
munity. Also,  a correlation  exists  be- 
tween the  size  and/or  power  of  the 
communit.  and  its  capacity  for 
either  moral  greatness  or  its  con- 
trary. Accordingly,  the  nation-state 
is  the  highest  moral  force  presently 
available  because  it  legislates  moral- 
ity and  determines  the  fundamental 
conditions  under  which  individual 
citizens  and  groups  of  citizens  can 
hold,  express,  pursue,  and  promote 
their  interests,  beliefs,  ideas,  aims, 
and  purposes.  Thus,  the  subject  mat- 
ter of  ethical  inquiry  must  include 
the  whole  range  of  human  associa- 
tions, i.e.,  family,  religious,  social, 
professional,  political.2 

In  addition  to  plurality,  a second 
necessary  condition  for  moral  rela- 
tionships is  that  of  freedom  which  is 
expressed  in  the  activities  of  deliber- 
ation and  choice.3  In  other  words, 
moral  agents  must  have  the  oppor- 
tunity to  choose  among  alternative 
modes  of  action.  Where  there  is  no 
choice  there  can  be  no  moral  action. 
That  is  to  say,  persons  cannot  be  held 
responsible  for  activities  undertaken 
by  compulsion.  Choice  implies  free- 
dom; namely,  that  every  action 
could  have  been  otherwise. 

We  contend  that  the  occasion  for 

2 Our  view  of  social  ethics  is  similar  to  Ar- 
istotle’s understanding  of  Politics  which  was 
for  him  the  master  science  of  human  action. 
See  his  Nicomachean  Ethics,  Book  1,  chs.  1 & 

s Once  again  we  acknowledge  our  indebt- 
edness to  Aristotle  whose  explication  of  effi- 
cient causation  constitutes  one  of  his  major 
contributions  to  ethical  inquiry.  See  his  Ni- 
comachean Ethics,  Book  in. 


ethical  inquiry  arises  whenever  the 
moral  consensus  of  a community  has 
been  disrupted  either  from  within  or 
Irom  without.  The  function  ol  social 
ethics  is  to  clarify  the  nature  ol  the 
moral  conflict  with  a view  towards 
pointing  the  direction  for  its  resolu- 
tion. This  is  no  simple  task  since  the 
resolution  of  any  moral  conflict  im- 
plies not  only  rigorous  analysis  of  all 
the  relevant  facts  and  their  relation 
to  one  another  but,  also,  a moral  as- 
sessment of  those  facts  in  accordance 
with  some  acknowledged  criteria.4 
Thus,  ethical  inquiry  arises  out  of 
some  actual  moral  conflict  (i.e.,  a set 
of  facts  as  a starting  point)  and  aims 
at  the  goal  of  resolving  that  conflict 
in  such  a way  as  to  enhance  the  qual- 
ity of  moral  life.  That  is  to  say,  social 
ethics  is  a practical  inquiry  for  two 
reasons:  (a)  because  human  action  is 
its  subject  matter  and  improved  ac- 
tion is  its  goal;  (b)  because  practical 
reasoning  is  a more  appropriate 
method  for  studying  human  action 
than  scientific  reason  because  of  the 
variability  of  the  subject  matter  due 
to  freedom. 

Now  we  are  concerned  about 
Christian  Social  Ethics.  How  does 
this  qualifier  “Christian”  affect  the 
nature  of  our  discipline?  First  of  all, 
nothing  that  has  been  said  up  to  this 
point  is  to  be  taken  away  from  the 
form  of  our  inquiry.  Rather,  the 
qualifier  “Christian”  refers  to  an  ad- 

4 These  criteria  are  many  and  varied  as 
evidenced  by  the  numerous  schools  of  ethical 
thought  in  our  day  such  as  utilitarianism, 
naturalism,  teleology,  deontology,  relativism, 

pragmatism  to  mention  only  a few.  For  a 
concise  and  detailed  analysis  of  these  schools 
see  William  K.  Frankena,  Ethics  (Englewood 
Cliffs,  N.J.:  Prentice-Hall,  1963);  Richard  T. 
Nolan,  Frank  G.  Kirkpatrick,  Living  Issues 
in  Ethics  (California:  Wadsworth,  1982). 


ditional  factor  that  is  indicated  by 
the  question,  “What  has  Christianity 
to  say  about  the  quality  of  human  re- 
lationships?” (i.e.,  the  moral  dimen- 
sion of  persons  and  communities). 
We  assume  that  Christianity  has  a 
contribution  to  make  to  the  resolu- 
tion of  our  problem  and  we  seek  its 
recognizable  form  both  in  thought 
and  in  practice. 

Constraints  Against  Expanding 
Moral  Communities 

Those  who  possess  imperialistic 
aspirations  view  the  problem  of  ex- 
panding moral  communities  solely 
as  one  of  strategy  since  the  ethical  is- 
sues are  not  problematic  for  them. 
Rather,  they  consider  their  own 
needs,  interests,  projects,  and  philos- 
ophy of  life  as  normative  and  those 
of  all  others  relativized  accordingly. 
In  fact,  more  often  than  not,  they 
view  other  communities  only  as  pos- 
sible or  actual  means  to  their  desired 
ends.  Further,  they  are  prone  to  ra- 
tionalize their  assumed  position  of 
privilege  by  viewing  all  others  as 
needing  the  salvific  relationship  they 
seek  to  establish  or  to  maintain.  Un- 
fortunately, the  expansion  of  Chris- 
tianity via  the  nineteenth-century 
Western  missionary  movement  was 
closely  tied  to  the  imperial  motive  of 
extending  Western  civilization  by 
means  of  commerce  and  colonial- 

5 Many  contemporary  revisionist  scholars 
of  African  Christianity  have  provided  more 
than  enough  evidence  to  support  this  judg- 
ment. Some  of  the  most  prominent  of  these 
are:  J.F.A.  Ajayi,  Christian  Missions  in  Nigeria 
1841-1891:  The  Maying  of  a New  Elite  (Ev- 
anston: Northwestern  University  Press, 

1969);  Lamin  Sanneh,  West  African  Christi- 
anity: The  Religious  Impact  (New  York:  Or- 
bis,  1983);  Adrian  Hastings,  A History  of  Af- 



Cultural  pluralists  are  suspicious 
of  all  intentional  efforts  to  expand 
moral  communities  on  the  historical 
grounds  that  such  expansion  has 
often  implied  some  measure  of 
moral  hegemony  on  the  part  of  the 
one  seeking  to  extend  itself.  Assum- 
ing the  moral  integrity  of  every 
moral  community  and  the  lack  of  a 
commonly  accepted  cosmology  in 
this  post-enlightenment  period,  the 
notion  of  expanding  moral  commu- 
nities in  any  just  way  is  considered 
unworkable  by  one  of  our  most  pro- 
minent moral  philosophers,  namely 
Alasdair  MacIntyre.* * * * * 6  Similarly,  al- 
though many  Christian  ethicists,  es- 
pecially relationists,  contextualists, 
and  dispositionists  like  H.  Richard 
Niebuhr,  James  M.  Gustafson,  and 
Stanley  Hauerwas  strongly  affirm 
pluralism,  their  fear  of  moral  and  re- 
ligious hegemony  restrains  them 
from  attending  to  the  task  of  con- 
structing just  relations  among  di- 
verse communities.7  Consequently, 
they  focus  their  attention  on  the 
moral  integrity  of  groups  and  the 
way  in  which  moral  problems  can  be 
resolved  ideally  by  attending  to  the 

rican  Christianity  / 950-/975  (Cambridge: 

Cambridge  University  Press,  1982);  E.  A. 

Ayandele,  The  Missionary  Impact  in  Modern 

Nigeria,  1842-11)14:  A Political  and  Social 

Analysis  (London:  Longman’s,  1966). 

6 This  viewpoint  permeates  Alasdair 
MacIntyre’s  book , After  Virtue  (Notre  Dame: 
University  of  Notre  Dame  Press,  1981). 

7 See  H.  Richard  Niebuhr,  Radical  Mon- 
otheism and  Western  Culture  (New  York: 

Harper  & Row,  i960);  James  M.  Gustafson, 
Christian  Ethics  and  the  Community  (Phila- 
delphia: Pilgrim,  1971);  Stanley  Hauerwas, 
The  Peaceable  Kingdom:  A Primer  in  Christian 
Ethics  (Notre  Dame:  University  of  Notre 
Dame,  1983). 

dynamics  of  relations,  contexts,  and 

Now,  we  contend  that  moral 
community  is  expanded  justly 
whenever  moral  conflicts  between 
moral  communities  are  resolved  to 
the  mutual  satisfaction  of  all  con- 
cerned. For  example,  the  successful 
outcome  of  the  recent  civil  rights 
struggle  in  this  country  under  the 
leadership  of  Martin  Luther  King, 
Jr.,  has  had  such  an  effect  and  the 
ongoing  struggle  is  hoped  to  im- 
prove on  that  outcome.  Thus,  in  our 
view,  the  expansion  of  moral  com- 
munity does  not  necessarily  imply  an 
imperialistic  invasion  of  other  com- 
munities nor  does  it  necessarily 
threaten  the  values  implicit  in  cul- 
tural pluralism.  As  will  become  clear 
presently,  we  will  argue  that  human 
communities  have  no  natural  im- 
pulse to  expand  themselves  in  a mor- 
ally just  way;  i.e.,  in  acts  of  pure  al- 
truism towards  others  outside  their 
own  kin  or  tribe.  Notwithstanding 
the  fact  that  individuals  have  fre- 
quently given  up  their  lives  for  the 
sake  of  others,  we  have  little  knowl- 
edge of  groups  acting  unselfishly  for 
the  welfare  of  others.  In  fact,  there 
appears  to  be  general  agreement 
among  social  scientists  that  pure  al- 
truism is  contrary  to  human  nature 
which  is  fundamentally  self-inter- 
ested in  all  of  its  activities.8  Never- 

8  According  to  the  sociologist  Sister  Marie 
Augusta  Neal,  except  for  August  Comte  and 
Pitirim  Sorokin,  sociologists  had  given  vir- 
tually no  attention  to  the  issue  of  altruism 
until  the  sociobiologist  Edward  O.  Wilson 
published  his  book.  Sociobiology:  A New  Syn- 
thesis (Cambridge:  Harvard  University, 

1975),  arguing  for  a genetically-grounded 
selfishness  in  human  nature.  Since  then  the 
discourse  in  social  science  has  been  carried  on 



theless,  we  contend  that  such  occur- 
rences do  happen  from  time  to  time 
with  enduring  effects.  But,  we  will 
also  argue  that  their  appearance  and 
preservation  necessitates  strong  de- 
sires, concentrated  struggle,  effective 
strategies,  and  the  most  careful  de- 
liberation. In  short,  just  relationships 
between  groups  requires  the  exercise 
of  political  wisdom  at  its  best. 

The  Evolutionary  Development  of 
Moral  Communities 

It  is  widely  thought  that  the  fam- 
ily constitutes  the  primary  locus  lor 
moral  community  because  of  its 
priority  in  the  order  ol  biological 
and  social  development.  Tradition- 
ally, the  family  was  held  together  by 
strong  natural  bonds  ol  belonging 
such  as  soil,  blood,  race,  language, 
and  patriarchal  rule.4  Not  only  was 

largely  by  social  psychologists.  See  Sister 
Marie  Augusta  Neal,  “Commitment  to  Al- 
truism in  Sociological  Analysis,”  in  Sociolog- 
ical Analysis , 1982,  vol.  43,  pp.  1-22.  In  the 
area  of  theological  ethics,  Reinhold  Nie- 
buhr’s negative  statement  on  the  capacity  of 
social  groups  to  do  justice  is  explicitly  set 
forth  in  his  Moral  Man  and  Immoral  Society 
(N.Y.:  Charles  Scribner’s,  1932).  In  1974 
Garrett  Hardin  published  an  essay  entitled 
“Living  on  a Life  Boat,”  in  Bioscience , Vol. 
24,  No.  10,  October  1974,  pp.  561-68,  which 
launched  a major  discussion  ol  lifeboat  ethics 
and  triage  in  relation  to  world  famine.  That 
discussion  culminated  in  a special  issue  of 
Soundings:  An  Interdisciplinary  Journal , 

Spring  1976,  Vol.  LIX,  No.  t,  entitled, 
“World  Famine  and  Lifeboat  Ethics.” 

9 In  his  perceptive  analysis  of  myths  of  or- 
igin, Paul  Tillich  has  demonstrated  more 
clearly  than  anyone  else  perhaps  the  impor- 
tance of  those  natural  bonds  (i.e.,  soil,  blood, 
social  group)  and  the  threat  they  present  to 
freedom.  See  his,  “The  Presuppositions  of 
Political  Romanticism,”  in  The  Socialist  De- 
cision, translated  by  Franklin  Sherman 
(New  York:  Harper  & Row,  1977),  pp.  13ft. 

the  integrity  of  the  family  highly  val- 
ued by  all  its  members  but  it  was  as- 
sumed that  each  of  them  would  have 
defended  with  his/her  life  the  fami- 
ly’s honor  against  all  external 

Traditionally,  families  tended  to 
extend  themselves  into  wider 
spheres  where  they  were  readily  rec- 
ognized and  respected  as  “extended 
families.”  Such  extensions  consti- 
tuted the  substance  of  ethnic  or  tribal 
communities.  Like  families,  these 
latter  groups  represented  wider  so- 
cial expressions  of  natural  instincts 
and  vitalities  evidenced  by  their 
overriding  interest  in  self-preserva- 
tion and  advancement.  In  this  re- 
spect their  instincts  and  vitalities 
could  be  viewed  as  analogous  to 
those  of  the  herd.  Accordingly,  they 
clustered  together  for  security  and 
worked  cooperatively  for  the  group’s 
survival  and  well-being.  Thus,  in 
this  evolutionary  process  “familial 
consciousness”  was  enlarged  by 
“tribal  consciousness”  and  conse- 
quently, loyalty  to  soil,  blood,  race, 
and  patriarchy  was  increased  consid- 
erably and  this  provided  the  basis  for 
the  development  of  theories  and 
practices  of  nationalism,  racism,  and 

Few  moral  problems  arose  in 
either  traditional  families  or  tribal 
associations  because  individuals  in 
both  groups  tended  to  exhibit  a high 
degree  of  loyalty  to  the  prevailing 
norms  and  customs  that  character- 
ized each.  Occasionally,  however, 
such  problems  did  arise,  sometimes 
in  the  form  of  power  struggles  but 
more  frequently  caused  by  one  or 
more  members  who  had  assimilated 
some  new  experience  from  outside 
the  familiar  environs  and  sought  to 



gain  validation  of  that  experience  by 
the  family  or  tribe.  The  resultant 
disharmony  always  evidenced  itself 
in  two  conflicting  parties:  (a)  the  one 
(usually  the  larger  whole)  strongly 
resisting  the  new  experience  as  a 
threat;  (b)  the  other  seeking  suffi- 
cient change  in  the  group  such  that  it 
might  accommodate  itself  to  the  new 
experience.  In  the  ensuing  struggle, 
the  bearers  of  the  new  experience 
risked  alienating  themselves  from 
their  group  while  the  latter  sought  to 
preserve  the  status  quo  by  bracing  it- 
self against  the  threat  in  a posture  of 
self  defense.  Traditionally,  such 
moral  conflicts  were  hastily  cor- 
rected by  the  leadership  drawing 
upon  the  coercive  powers  of  its  au- 
thority. Those  who  failed  to  comply 
with  the  dictates  of  that  authority 
were  viewed  as  betrayers  of  the  tra- 
dition and  could,  as  a last  resort,  be 
excommunicated:  i.e.,  severed  from 
the  community’s  life-preserving  re- 

Industrialism,  technology,  and  ur- 
banism severely  disrupted  tradi- 
tional family  and  tribal  cohesion. 
Uprootedness  from  the  soil  and  sep- 
aration from  blood  relatives  caused 
the  urban  dweller  to  find  substitutes 
for  these  natural  affinities.  Conse- 
quently, the  “social  group”10  has 
emerged  in  our  modern  day  in  such 
varying  forms  as  professional  associ- 
ations, social  clubs,  labor  unions,  po- 
litical parties,  religious  communities, 

For  a detailed  discussion  of  the  concept 
“social”  see  Hannah  Arendt,  The  Human 
Condition  (Chicago:  University  of  Chicago 
Press  1958),  pp.  38ff.  We  agree  with 
Arendt’s  view  that  the  social  realm  threatens 
the  integrity  of  both  the  private  and  public 
realms  by  giving  private  matters  high  public 

to  mention  only  a few.  As  we  will 
see,  even  the  nation-state  can  be 
viewed  as  a “social  group.”  Social 
groups  are  quasi-natural  phenom- 
ena; i.e.,  specialized  secondary 
expressions  of  the  natural  dynamics 
inherent  in  families  and  tribes. 
While  membership  in  the  latter  is 
determined  by  natural  conditions  of 
entitlement  (i.e.,  birth,  blood,  terri- 
tory), membership  in  the  modern  so- 
cial group  is  based  on  the  reciprocity 
of  individual  choice  and  the  group’s 
approval."  Like  their  natural  coun- 
terparts, these  social  groups  are  ori- 
ented towards  activities  that  serve 
the  primary  needs  of  their  members. 
In  other  words,  their  chief  objective 
is  to  maintain  and  promote  a more 
pleasant  and  secure  life  for  their 
members.  Like  families  and  tribes, 
social  groups  also  demand  a high 
measure  of  conformity  on  the  part  of 
their  members.  Hence,  each  social 
group  tends  to  exhibit  one  opinion 
and  one  interest.  In  fact,  social 
groups  tend  to  discourage  diverse 
opinions  and  interests  because  they 
consider  them  threats  to  their  unity. 

Like  families  and  tribal  associa- 
tions, modern  social  groups  are  in- 
curably parochial.  Even  their  public 
interests  exhibit  a certain  parochial- 
ism in  the  sense  that  they  are  not  to- 

" It  will  be  noted  that  we  include  all  vol- 
untary associations  in  our  category  “social 
group.”  James  Luther  Adams  defines  “vol- 
untary associations”  as  groups  that  occupy 
the  space  between  family  and  state  both  of 
which  are  viewed  by  him  as  natural  com- 
munities. See  his  “The  Voluntary  Principle 
in  the  Forming  of  American  Religion,”  in 
Elwyn  A.  Smith,  ed..  The  Religion  of  the  Re- 
public (Philadelphia:  Fortress,  1971).  See  also 
various  essays  in  D.  B.  Robertson,  ed.,  Vol- 
untary Associations:  A Study  of  Groups  in  Tree 
Societies  (Richmond:  John  Knox  Press,  1966). 


tally  altruistic.  Their  natural  tend- 
ency is  to  spurn  outsiders  although 
their  lack  of  self-sufficiency  forces 
them  into  various  functional  rela- 
tionships with  different  peoples. 
Trade  in  goods  and  services  usually 
comprise  the  nature  of  these  func- 
tional relations.  Frequently,  how- 
ever, an  unintentional  by-product  of 
these  functional  relations  is  the  mu- 
tual exchange  of  various  cultural  val- 
ues which  constitutes  one  of  the 
principal  ways  by  which  social 
groups  absorb  alien  values. 

Characteristically,  families,  tribal 
associations,  and  social  groups  pos- 
sess minimal  capacity  for  integrating 
outside  elements  whether  they  be  in 
the  form  of  persons,  ideas,  or  values. 
They  all  tend  to  view  outsiders  with 
varying  degrees  of  suspicion,  dis- 
trust, and  hostility.  Their  self-pro- 
tective herd  instinct  causes  them  to 
relate  in  the  following  ways  to  those 
outside  their  group:  (a)  co -existence-. 
This  relation  of  establishing  physical 
and  social  distance  from  the  other  is 
based  on  an  attitude  of  distrust  evi- 
denced by  the  need  for  continuous 
surveillance  of  the  other’s  activities; 
(b)  domination : establishing  and 

maintaining  a position  of  control 
over  the  other  by  some  combination 
of  physical  force,  psychological  war- 
fare, economic  dependency,  political 
hegemony.  Thus,  coexistence  inevi- 
tably leads  to  some  type  of  cold  war 
and  the  domination  of  humans  im- 
plies some  form  of  resistance.  Hence, 
neither  contributes  anything  to  har- 
mony and  peace. 

Clearly,  these  ways  of  relating  to 
the  outsider  presuppose  the  condi- 
tion of  hostility  which  negates  all  ef- 
forts aimed  at  creating  wider  moral 
communities  capable  of  integrating 


larger  amounts  of  diversity  in  a just 
form.  Since  much  of  the  modern 
world’s  associational  life  is  charac- 
terized by  the  ethos  of  these  social 
groups,  and  since  these  social  groups 
are  not  naturally  disposed  towards 
uniting  with  others  solely  for  the 
good  of  the  other,  we  conclude  that 
our  present  age  represents  no  signif- 
icant advance  in  moral  relations  in 
spite  of  the  immense  developments 
in  almost  every  other  dimension  of 
our  cultural  life. 

Expanding  Moral  Communities 

As  mentioned  above,  conflicting 
moral  values  provide  the  occasion 
for  ethical  inquiry.  Since  most  of  our 
associational  life  is  rooted  in  the  nat- 
ural instincts  of  self-preservation 
and  self-enhancement,  and  since  our 
social  groups  are  characteristically 
impervious  to  the  admission  of  alien 
elements  into  their  respective  do- 
mains, the  basic  moral  problem  of 
our  time  is  how  we  can  break  out  of 
our  parochialism  and  expand  our 
moral  communities  for  the  sake  of 
justice.  Unlike  those  whose  primary 
interest  is  the  preservation  of  small 
communities,  ours  is  a passion  for 
the  creation  of  communities  capable 
of  including  as  much  quantitative 
diversity  as  possible.12  Although  it 
appears  that  no  natural  impulse  mo- 
tivates us  towards  the  formation  of 
such  wider  communities,  neither 
does  any  natural  condition  prevent 
us  from  doing  so.  On  the  contrary, 
humans  have  the  unique  capacity  to 
transcend  every  natural  impulse  and 

12  Here  we  disagree  with  two  of  our  prin- 
cipal mentors,  viz.,  Aristotle  and  Arendt, 
both  ot  whom  believed  that  viable  moral 
communities  necessitated  limitation  to  city- 
states  and  small  towns  respectively. 



to  envision  and  create  new  commu- 
nities that  are  not  regulated  by  nat- 
ural needs  and  desires  but  by  the 
goal  of  preserving  and  promoting 
our  common  humanity.  Hence,  the 
end  we  seek  is  a human  construct, 
namely,  a better  world.  Further,  we 
contend  that  humans  actualize 
themselves  as  humans  only  as  they 
exercise  their  capacity  for  establish- 
ing moral  communities  in  which  di- 
verse peoples  can  associate  w'ith  dig- 
nity, self-respect,  independence,  and 
peace.  In  such  communities  free- 
dom, equality,  and  liberty  are  not  ab- 
stract principles  but  the  actual  con- 
ditions of  experience.  Those  who 
choose  to  remain  in  bondage  to  the 
entitlements  derived  either  from 
their  place  of  origin  or  from  some 
other  natural  condition  such  as  gen- 
der, race,  religion,  or  nation  fail  to 
actualize  their  human  potentialities. 
Like  the  lower  animals,  they  merely 
participate  in  the  biological  cycle  of 
life,  procreation,  acquisition,  and 
death.  Consequently,  the  meaning  of 
their  lives  is  integrally  tied  to  their 

Since  social  groups  resist  plurality 
and  do  not  encourage  freedom — the 
two  primary  conditions  for  moral  re- 
lationships— it  follows  that  social 
groups  have  limited  capability  for  ef- 
fecting the  kind  of  moral  expansion 
we  seek.  That  is  to  say,  no  social 
group  can  evolve  naturally  into  a 
wider  moral  community  in  spite  of 
its  capacity  either  to  absorb  alien  cul- 
tural values  incidentally  through  ex- 
change relationships  or  its  ability  to 
integrate  foreign  peoples  into  its 
group  by  conquest  and/or  propa- 

The  wider  moral  communities  we 
seek  are  brought  into  being  by  hu- 

mans thinking  and  acting  coopera- 
tively to  effect  a more  inclusive 
world.  This  problem  cannot  be  re- 
solved in  the  realm  of  thought  but, 
rather,  in  the  sphere  of  action.  Nei- 
ther can  the  resolution  be  a certain 
fixed  formula  that  needs  simply  to  be 
applied  to  particular  situations. 
Rather,  it  is  a moral  problem  that 
can  only  be  resolved  by  humans 
committed  to  a lifetime  of  acting  co- 
operatively for  the  sake  of  our  com- 
mon humanity.  This  involves  main- 
taining the  conditions  under  which 
our  common  world  can  endure  and 

Since  our  natural  instincts  oppose 
such  a community,  how,  then,  does  it 
arise?  The  answer  to  that  question 
rests  on  a basic  presupposition,  viz. 
that  the  natural  powers  of  resistance 
have  been  broken.  In  other  words, 
loyalty  to  soil,  blood,  race,  patriarchy 
must  be  overcome  before  any  moral 
advance  is  possible.  Tillich  answered 
this  question  in  principle  by  arguing 
that  the  so-called  “myth  of  origin”  is 
broken  by  the  unconditional  de- 
mand experienced  by  humans  as 
their  essential  nature  whenever  they 
encounter  the  moral  imperative.  In 
Tillich’s  view  this  moral  demand  is 
the  root  of  all  prophetic  thought  in 
the  sphere  of  religion  and  of  all 
liberal,  democratic,  and  socialist 
thought  in  the  realm  of  politics.'3 

Now  a person  experiences  an  un- 
conditional demand  only  from 
another  person.  The  demand  be- 
comes concrete  in  the  “I-Thou” 
encounter.  The  content  of  the  de- 
mand is  therefore  that  the  “thou” 

13  Paul  Tillich,  The  Socialist  Decision , 
translated  by  Franklin  Sherman  (New  York: 
Harper  & Row,  1977),  p.  5. 



be  accorded  the  same  dignity  as 
the  “I”;  this  is  the  dignity  of  being 
free,  of  being  the  bearer  of  the  ful- 
fillment implied  in  the  origin. 
This  recognition  of  the  equal  dig- 
nity of  the  “Thou”  and  the  “1”  is 

Tillich  rightly  perceived  the  ne- 
cessity of  giving  ontological  status  to 
the  claim  of  justice.  The  uncondi- 
tional character  of  the  moral  imper- 
ative points  to  its  ontological  nature; 
i.e.,  the  reflective  aspect  of  becoming 
persons  only  by  treating  others  as 
persons  designates  the  way  it  func- 
tions in  human  experience:  i.e.,  in 
the  self-constitution  of  persons.14  But 
Tillich’s  discussion  of  the  moral  im- 
perative is  thoroughly  formal  in  its 
ontological  status  and  ambiguous  in 
its  historical  content.  Further,  for 
Tillich,  moral  relations  occur  in  “I- 
Thou”  encounters  and  are  limited 
therefore  to  the  self-constituting  ac- 
tivity of  the  individual  person:  “Mo- 
rality is  the  function  of  life  in  which 
the  centered  self  constitutes  itself  as  a 

Although  our  understanding  of 
morality  and  justice  is  broader  than 
Tillich’s,  we  are  not  in  disagreement 
with  his  view  of  the  moral  impera- 
tive and  its  function  in  forming  per- 
sons. More  specifically,  we  applaud 
the  unity  of  acting  and  becoming 
that  attends  Tillich’s  description  of 
the  moral  act. 

Tillich  argues  that  persons  en- 
counter the  moral  imperative  when- 
ever they  meet  a “thou”  who  de- 

14  Ibid.,  p.  6. 

15  Paul  Tillich,  Systematic  Theology , Vol. 
Ill  (Chicago:  University  of  Chicago  Press, 
1963),  pp.  38-50. 

'6  Ibid.,  p.  38. 

mands  justice  in  being  treated  as  a 
subject.  Similarly,  we  argue  that  the 
parochialism  of  social  groups  is  bro- 
ken in  principle  by  the  demand  of 
outside  groups  for  justice.  In  other 
words,  a fundamental  condition  for 
the  expansion  of  moral  communities 
is  the  claim  for  justice  that  emanates 
from  those  on  the  outside.  Such  a 
claim  is  always  based  on  the  experi- 
ence of  injustice;  i.e.,  some  sense  of 
distributive  inequality  and  a sense  of 
harm  suffered  as  a result.  Those  who 
initiate  the  claim  are  the  sufferers  of 
the  injustice  and,  consequently,  they, 
alone,  are  the  bearers  of  constructive 
social  change.  Religiously,  they  have 
been  viewed  as  prophets  when  they 
identify  with  the  in-group’s  tradi- 
tions and  appeal  to  those  traditions 
as  the  authoritative  source  for  their 
claim.  When  the  bearers  of  social 
change  stand  outside  those  traditions 
they  are  bent  on  changing,  they  are 
rightly  labelled  as  revolutionaries.  In 
either  case,  their  demands  are  always 
empirically  based  and  they  struggle 
for  their  dignity  and  freedom. 

Since  every  group  has  a center  of 
cohesion  rooted  in  either  conven- 
tional or  legal  authority,  each  group 
necessarily  expresses  some  form  of 
justice.  In  fact,  some  argue  that  the 
social  group’s  form  is  determined  by 
its  understanding  of  justice.'7  Since 
social  groups  exist  for  themselves 
and  since  they  are  oriented  to  the 
well-being  of  their  own  members, 
on  what  basis  then  would  an  outside 
group  bring  a claim  of  justice?  In 
other  words,  the  rightful  claims  of 

17  This  appears  to  be  Tillich’s  view.  See  his 
Systematic  Theology , Vol.  Ill  (Chicago:  Uni- 
versity of  Chicago  Press,  1963),  p.  79.  This  is 
also  Aristotle’s  view  of  justice  as  law  and  its 
function  in  the  constitutions  of  states. 



justice  imply  a common  moral 
realm.  Enemies  do  not  appeal  to  one 
another  for  justice.  They  can  only 
appeal  to  some  other  community  of 
moral  belonging.  Apart  from  such  a 
reality  enemies  must  remain  polar- 
ized constantly  on  the  brink  of  war. 
Accordingly,  two  types  of  moral 
struggles  seem  to  present  them- 
selves: (a)  An  outside  group,  psycho- 
logically and  sociologically  identify- 
ing with  the  traditions  of  the  insiders 
and  feeling  unjustly  segregated  or 
discriminated  against,  appeals  to 
those  same  traditions  as  the  source  of 
appeal  for  their  moral  claim.  (This 
has  been  the  practice  of  all  civil 
rights  struggles  including  those  of 
black  Americans,  women,  trade 
unions,  lesbians,  and  gay  men,  to 
mention  only  a few.)'8  (b)  An  outside 
group  that  shares  no  common  tradi- 
tions with  the  insiders  and  conse- 
quently can  appeal  to  no  moral  con- 
sensus. Hence  the  outside  group 
must  do  one  of  two  things:  (i)  appeal 
to  some  moral  community  apart 
from  that  of  the  insiders  in  the  hope 
that  they  might  be  persuaded  to  ex- 
ercise various  forms  of  pressure  (eco- 
nomic, diplomatic,  etc.)  as  means  of 
forcing  the  insiders  to  agree  to  ne- 
gotiate change'9;  (ii)  prepare  for  the 
inevitability  of  war. 

Unlike  social  groups,  oppressed 
people  embody  an  impulse  for  uni- 
versality which  is  expressed  in  their 
claim  for  justice.  Their  discontent 

,8  Often  the  early  stages  of  these  struggles 
involve  the  amendments  to  the  constitution 
of  the  state  or  to  the  administrative  laws  in 
various  jurisdictions;  e.g.,  Civil  Rights  acts  of 
1964  and  1965;  the  recent  Gay  Rights  Bill  of 
the  New  York  City  Council,  March  21,  1986. 

"•  The  contemporary  struggle  for  the  lib- 
eration of  black  South  Africans  is  a good  ex- 
ample of  this  method. 

with  the  particularity  of  their  condi- 
tion stimulates  them  to  struggle  for 
justice;  i.e.,  equality  within  a wider 
humanity.  Every  prophetic  and  rev- 
olutionary group  presses  such  a 

Moral  Agency  for  Effecting  Wider 
Moral  Communities 

The  primary  condition  for  effect- 
ing wider  moral  communities  is  the 
ready  availability  of  various  groups 
of  people  suffering  from  differing 
forms  of  injustice  and  struggling  to 
gain  adequate  moral  support  for 
their  claims:  claims,  for  the  most 
part,  that  are  basically  moral,  reli- 
gious, and  political.  These  people 
struggle  continuously  for  their  hu- 
manity in  worlds  where  structures 
and  principles  of  subordination  and 
exclusion  maintain  systems  wherein 
gender,  race,  class,  nationality,  reli- 
gion comprise  the  material  cause  of 
inequality  in  social  condition,  politi- 
cal participation,  civil  liberty,  eco- 
nomic opportunity,  and  group  ad- 
vancement. Like  all  people,  the 
oppressed  also  seek  freedom,  equal- 
ity, liberty,  and  the  pursuit  of  hap- 
piness not  as  ideas  but  as  real  expe- 

How  do  we  know  whether  or  not 
the  claims  of  injustice  are  true  and 
why  should  we  respond  in  any  posi- 
tive way  to  them?  As  indicated 
above,  every  claim  for  justice  is  an 
empirical  claim  and,  consequently, 
the  content  of  the  claim  is  available 
to  any  who  might  be  desirous  of  un- 
dertaking their  own  independent  in- 
vestigation. The  question  “Why 
should  we  respond  in  any  positive 
way  to  such  claims?”  raises  a more 
basic  question,  namely,  that  of  moral 
capacity  to  make  such  a response. 


Those  who  do  not  have  the  capacity 
to  respond  positively  could  hardly 
ask  the  question.  In  our  judgment, 
the  modern  world,  unfortunately,  is 
largely  deficient  in  moral  capacity  to 
respond  positively  to  such  demands 
for  the  following  reasons:  (a)  We 
find  ourselves  in  bondage  to  the 
ethos  and  dictates  of  parochial  social 
groups  that  control  our  lives  both 
personally  and  collectively;  (b)  we 
find  ourselves  in  bondage  to  a cul- 
tural ethos  in  which  all  ol  our  think- 
ing and  acting  are  shaped  by  values 
of  the  ruling  technological  paradigm 
in  our  social  order:  values  that  Gib- 
son Winter  names  as  “Progress,  de- 
velopment, evolution,  power  as 
domination,  freedom  as  autonomy20; 
(c)  we  find  ourselves  in  bondage  to  a 
philosophical  and  theological  ideal- 
ism that  aims  at  setting  forth  univer- 
sal ideas  and  principles  far  removed 
from  historical  embodiment.  Thus, 
parochialism,  utilitarianism,  and 
idealism  constitute  major  societal 
constraints  against  the  formation  of 
wider  moral  communities.  But  these 
conditions  can  be  overcome  when 
adequate  commitment  to  such  an 
end  exists.  Such  an  achievement  is 
evidenced  in  the  United  Nations  Or- 
ganization which  represents  the 
kind  of  moral  construct  humans  can 
design  when  they  choose  to  do  so. 

Is  Christianity  in  any  way  re- 
moved from  the  criticism  we  make 
of  social  groups?  The  answer  is  both 
yes  and  no.  Negatively,  the  paro- 
chialism of  churches  has  been  evi- 
denced in  numerous  ways:  e.g.,  de- 
claring certain  spaces,  groups,  and 
occasions  sacred  and,  therefore,  un- 

20  Gibson  Winter,  Liberating  Creation: 
Foundations  of  Religious  Social  Ethics  (New 
York:  Crossroad,  1981),  p.  102. 


changeable;  by  affirming  given 
socio-political  power  structures;  by 
referring  to  the  churches  metaphor- 
ically as  families.  But,  there  is  also  a 
sense  in  which  Christianity  contains 
certain  resources  for  the  solution  to 
our  problem,  namely,  its  vision  of  a 
universal  humanity  inclusive  of  all 
races,  classes,  and  nations.  Clearly 
the  churches  have  not  worked  hard 
enough  to  institutionalize  this  ideal, 
which  we  contend  is  practical  to  a 
much  greater  degree  than  our  theol- 
ogies and  practices  would  lead  us  to 
believe.  On  the  one  hand,  the  Roman 
Catholic  Church  has  done  much  in 
this  regard  even  though  it  has  been 
severely  constrained  by  its  strong 
centralized  system  of  ecclesiastical 
control  which  implies  the  church’s 
aim  of  representing  the  unity  of  the 
church  in  its  own  particularity.  On 
the  other  hand,  the  Protestant  rec- 
ognition of  the  ambiguity  of  Chris- 
tian experience  and  the  need  for  cre- 
ating unity  within  the  apparent 
disunity  has  led  to  the  formation  of 
the  World  Council  of  Churches. 
Many  have  extolled  the  virtues  of  the 
World  Council  of  Churches  but 
none  has  spoken  more  aptly  of  its 
practical  significance  than  Paul  Til- 
lich who  wrote: 

In  practical  terms  it  is  able  to  heal 
divisions  which  have  become  his- 
torically obsolete,  to  replace 
confessional  fanaticism  by  inter- 
confessional cooperation,  to  con- 
quer denominational  provincial- 
ism, and  to  produce  a new  vision 
of  the  unity  of  all  churches  in 
their  foundation.21 

21  Paul  Tillich,  Systematic  Theology , Vol. 
Ill  (Chicago:  University  of  Chicago  Press, 
1963),  p.  171. 



Nevertheless,  the  parochialism  of 
most  Protestant  churches  leads  to 
views  of  moral  and  religious  self-suf- 
ficiency that  prevent  them  from  con- 
sidering the  good  of  others  and  from 
seeking  opportunities  for  coopera- 
tive work.  Unfortunately,  interreli- 
gious  dialogue  and  cooperation 
based  on  the  value  of  mutual  respect 
has  little  visibility  in  our  day.  Re- 
spect for  diverse  moral  communities 
and  the  desire  for  mutual  friendship 
between  and  among  them,  together 
with  sensitive  and  appropriate  re- 

sponses to  the  claims  of  oppressed 
peoples  for  justice,  are  the  products 
of  religious  and  moral  training.  That 
training  must  be  undertaken  by  in- 
stitutions that  embody  the  virtues  we 
advocate.  It  is  not  enough  to  love  di- 
versity as  an  idea  or  even  to  promote 
it  as  a tangent  since  neither  changes 
anything.  Rather,  we  must  seek  to 
cultivate  the  personal  and  institu- 
tional habits  necessary  for  creating 
unity  while  preserving  diversity. 
Happily,  that  quest  could  become 
for  us  a way  of  life. 

The  Theology  of 
Nationalism  of 
Emanuel  Hirsch 

by  Jean-Loup  Seban 


On  the  eve  of  the  German 
Church  Struggle  a Swiss  theo- 
logian teaching  at  Bonn  who  was  to 
become  one  of  its  instigators  took  a 
decisively  critical  stance  against 
some  theologians  whom  he  sus- 
pected of  associating  anew  Christian 
revelation  with  human  expectations 
and  beliefs.  Karl  Barth  could  but  ut- 
ter an  uncompromising  “no”  to  the 
common  though  differentiated  en- 
deavors ol  Emil  Brunner,  Friedrich 
Gogarten,  Paul  Althaus,  and  Eman- 
uel Hirsch.  In  composing  The  First 
Commandment  as  Theological  Axiom 
in  1933  and  a year  later  No,  Answer 
to  Emil  Brunner  he  purposed  to  put 
an  end  once  and  for  all  to  what  he 
saw  as  a fearsome  resurgence  of  the 
old  demon  of  the  seventeenth-  and 
eighteenth-century  Protestantism. 
He  named  “theology  of  the  and”  this 
new  trend  in  modern  European  re- 
ligious consciousness,  most  annoying 
and  unfortunate  in  his  estimation. 
For,  it  appeared  to  him  that  this  kind 
of  theology  sought  mainly  to  accom- 
modate the  Word  of  God  to  up-to- 

Dr.  Jean-Loup  Seban  joined  the  faculty 
in  the  fall  of  i<)8 5 as  assistant  professor  of 
modern  European  Church  history.  A native 
of  France,  he  has  received  degrees  from  the 
Faculty  of  Protestant  Theology  at  Brussels, 
the  Ecole  Pratique  des  Hautes  Etudes  at 
the  Sorbonne,  and  the  University  of  Paris. 
Before  coming  to  Princeton  he  was  succes- 
sively a parish  minister  of  the  French  Re- 
formed Church,  director  of  the  Protestant 
Cultural  Center  of  the  Republich  of  Dji- 
bouti, a research  fellow  at  the  lnstitut  fur 
europaische  Geschichte  at  Mainz  in  West 
Germany,  a visiting  fellow  at  Oxford,  and 
a lecturer  in  divinity  and  ecclesiastical  his- 
tory at  the  University  of  St.  Andrews,  Scot- 


date  philosophy,  to  contemporary 
history,  or  to  modern  science.  Fur- 
thermore in  so  doing  it  accounted 
for  the  principle  of  nation  and  State, 
and  for  the  morals  of  people1  which 
had  been  the  purpose  of  Culture- 
Protestantism.  If  indeed  nowadays 
Emanuel  Hirsch  is  but  barely  re- 
membered by  Barth’s  1930s  polem- 
ics, it  sometimes  happens  that  his 
contribution  to  the  study  ot  the  New 
Testament  and  to  our  knowledge  of 
Luther  calls  to  mind  his  outstanding, 
exceptional  scholarship.  More  re- 
cently a remarkably  well-informed 
History  of  New  Protestant  Theology, 
dictated  in  his  later  years  while  he 
was  blind,  reopened  old  wounds.2 
With  unmatchable  insight  Hirsch 

1 K.  Barth.  Das  erste  Gebot  a Is  theologisches 
Axiom , ZZ,  ii,  1933,  pp.  297-314,  pp.  306-9 
and  New!  Antwort  an  Emil  Brunner , Th.  Ex. 
H.,  14,  1934,  p.  10. 

2 E.  Hirsch.  Geschichte  der  neuern  evange- 
lischen  Theologie , 5 vol.  Giitersloh,  1949- 
1954.  In  1938  Hirsch  gave  a first  account  of 
his  view  in  Die  Umformung  des  christlichen 
Denpens  in  der  Neuzeit  (Tubingen). 



showed  the  dependence  of  Protes- 
tant theology  on  the  philosophical  is- 
sues and  the  political  theories  of  the 
seventeenth,  eighteenth,  and  nine- 
teenth centuries.  As  expected, 
Barthians  called  in  doubt  Hirsch’s 
approach  to  the  crisis  of  transforma- 
tion of  Christian  thought  in  modern 
times,  and  deprecated  the  actual 
value  of  the  whole  work.  These  five 
thick  volumes  of  the  finest  scholar- 
ship were  disparaged  not  for  purely 
scholarly  reasons  but  on  arbitrary 
dogmatical  grounds.  The  question 
of  how  to  conceive  the  relation  of 
theology  to  history  revived  a bygone 
confrontation  of  antagonistic  stand- 
points.3 As  Emanuel  Hirsch  made 
his  name  between  the  World  Wars 
as  a politically  committed  theolo- 
gian, which  is  ironically  for  the  same 
reason  that  he  fell  into  oblivion  after 
the  Second  World  War,  we  propose 
to  focus  our  attention  on  the  part  of 
his  work  that  we  venture  to  call 
“theology  of  nationalism.” 

The  preliminary  question  we 
ought  to  raise  concerns  the  reasons 
why  Hirsch’s  nationalistic  theology 
should  be  rescued  from  apparently 
deserved  oblivion.  There  is  a prece- 
dent. Hirsch’s  interpretation  of  the 
development  of  protestant  thought 
in  modern  times  has  already  been 
reminisced  in  a favorable  light  at 
Gottingen  in  1982  at  the  commemo- 
ration of  the  10th  anniversary  of  his 
death.4  Yet  it  would  be  misleading  to 

* Max  Geiger.  Geschichtsmachte  oder  Evan- 
gelium?  Theol.  Studien,  37,  Zurich,  1953; 
E.  Buess.  Emanuel  Hirschs  Geschichte  der 
neuern  evangelischen  Theologie  und  ihre  theo- 
logische  Bedeutung.  Th.  Z.  10,  1954,  pp.  197- 

4 H.  M.  Muller  (editor)  Christliche  Wahr- 
heit  und  neuzeitliches  Denizen.  Tubingen, 

conclude  from  this  precedent  that 
we  now  have  the  task  of  rehabilitat- 
ing Hirsch's  political  theology.  In 
our  opinion  there  are  two  motives  to 
be  considered.  In  the  first  place  this 
rescue  should  help  historians  to  at- 
tain a better  understanding  of  one  of 
the  most  critical  times  in  the  history 
of  modern  Protestantism.  Secondly 
it  should  teach  churchgoers,  minis- 
ters as  well  as  church  leaders,  a les- 
son. Indeed,  it  is  beyond  argument 
that  the  period  in  which  a thinker 
lives — be  he  moralist,  philosopher, 
or  theologian — provides  the  kind  of 
challenge  he  is  to  meet,  and  thereby 
gives  the  impulse  to  his  endeavor. 
The  major  events  or  the  crucial  is- 
sues of  his  time  stimulate  his  creativ- 
ity. The  worldly  affairs  become 
more  or  less  the  focus  of  his  intellec- 
tual contention.  Among  all  kinds  of 
theologians  the  dogmatician  is  by 
vocation  the  man  to  whom  it  per- 
tains in  particular  to  show  concern  at 
political  events,  to  be  receptive  to  so- 
cial and  cultural  mutations  as  well  as 
to  discern  any  emergence  of  new 
forms  of  belief.  But  it  sometimes 
happens  that  this  professional  con- 
cern rises  to  such  an  extreme  that  it 
takes  over  thoroughly  the  matter  of 
his  theologizing.  Emanuel  Hirsch 
exemplifies  this  type  of  theologian 
ultimately  devoted  to  a political 
cause.  A character  which  is  not  lim- 
ited to  a particular  time. 

In  introducing  Hirsch’s  national- 
istic theology  we  shall  trace  its  devel- 
opment from  the  early  years  to  the 
Second  World  War  and  describe  his 
personal  involvement  in  the  Church 
affairs  in  the  thirties.  In  the  conclud- 
ing part  we  shall  summarize  his 
most  characteristic  teachings  and 
compare  them  with  those  of  some  of 
his  contemporaries. 




Born  in  1888  in  Bentwisch  in 
Westpriegnitz,  Germany,  and  dying 
isolated,  embittered,  and  blind  in 
1972,  Emanuel  Hirsch  lived  through 
four  different  kinds  ol  regime.  He 
was  brought  up  in  the  splendor  ol 
the  Wilhelmian  monarchy,  when 
Prussia  had  become  a world  military 
power  and  Protestantism  the  cradle 
of  culture,  and  read  theology  at  Ber- 
lin with  Adolf  von  Harnack,  Her- 
man Gunkel,  and  Karl  Holl.  At  the 
close  of  the  First  World  War  he  wit- 
nessed with  great  distress  the  fall  of 
the  House  of  Hohenzollern  caused 
by  the  1918  socialist  revolution. 
Then  as  a contemptuous  spectator, 
he  endured  the  looseness  of  the  Wei- 
mar Republic,  a democratic  regime, 
which  as  a monarchist  he  could  not 
tolerate.  In  the  meantime  he  was  still 
looking  forward  to  a better  future 
for  Germany.  As  did  many  contem- 
porary German  theologians,  he  wel- 
comed with  relief  and  great  expec- 
tation, and  even  a naive  confidence 
in  the  future,  Hitler’s  assumption  of 
power  on  January  30,  1933.  After  the 
Second  World  War,  he  saw  the  res- 
toration of  democracy  with  the  birth 
of  the  Federal  Republic  of  Germany 
and,  as  the  price  for  Hitler’s  war,  the 
loss  of  the  Eastern  Territories  and 
the  partition  of  his  country  into  two 
nations  with  conflicting  political  and 
economic  systems.  With  the  collapse 
of  the  Third  Reich  ended  also  his  ac- 
ademic career;  he  was  pensioned  off. 

If  we  accept  that  Hirsch’s  concern 
for  his  country,  its  spiritual  life,  cul- 
tural influence,  and  historical  des- 
tiny, formed  the  focus  of  his  theolo- 
gizing, as  he  himself  considered  it  to 
be,* * * * 5  we  must  divide  the  period  of  his 

5  “Falls  ich  Licht  zur  Arbeit  wieder  emp- 

creative  production  into  three 
phases:  from  the  First  World  War  to 
the  1930  National-socialist  break- 
through; from  1930  to  Hitler’s  acces- 
sion to  power;  from  1933  to  the  Sec- 
ond World  War.  To  these  a 
preparatory  stage  must  be  added 
which  took  place  before  the  fatal 
year  1918  and  gave  shape  to  his 
methodological  approach.  As  a dis- 
ciple of  Karl  Holl  (1866-1926)6  who 
became  famous  for  giving  the  start 
to  the  Futher-renaissance  and  inter- 
preting Luther’s  religious  insight  as 
religion  of  consciousness,  and  being 
familiar  with  Fichtean  idealism  and 
nationalism,7  Hirsch  gained  early  a 
sense  of  history  and  an  idealist  con- 
ception of  epistemology.  From 
Fichte  and  Holl  he  mainly  retained 
that  all  truth  depends  essentially  on 
human  consciousness. 


The  fall  of  the  Wilhelmian  mon- 
archy and  the  birth  of  the  Republic 
initiated  the  first  phase  of  his  theo- 
logical undertaking.  It  coincides 
with  the  close  of  the  two  most  de- 
pressing years  in  his  life:  years  of  suf- 
fering, anxiety,  and  uncertainty  re- 
garding the  future  caused  by  a 

fange  solle  es  nicht  bloss  theologischem 

Forschen  und  Lehren  1m  engeren  Sinne  die- 

nen,  sondern  (ohne  jede  Verkiirzung  solchen 
Dienstes)  auch  noch  dazu,  meinem  Volke  in 
der  es  mit  innerer  Auflosung  bedrohenden 
geistigen  Krise  durch  helfendes  Denken  den 

Weg  zu  finden.’’  E.  Hirsch,  Meine  Wende- 
jahre  1916-1921-,  Freies  Christentum  3,  1951, 

Nr.  12,  pp.  3-6,  p.  5. 

6 E.  Hirsch.  Mem  Weg  in  die  Wissenschaft 
1911-1916-,  Freies  Christentum  3,  1951,  Nr. 
mpp.  3-5. 

7 E.  Hirsch.  Fichtes  Reltgionsphilosophie  im 
Rahmen  der  philosophischen  Gesamentwick, ■- 
lung  Fichtes.  Gottingen,  1914.  This  was  his 



frightening  recurrent  illness,  the  de- 
tachment of  the  retina  of  his  left  eye 
in  winter  1917-18  and  of  his  right 
eye  in  19x9.  In  a short  autobiograph- 
ical essay,  dictated  after  the  Second 
World  War  while  he  was  blind, 
Hirsch  identified  what  he  then  en- 
dured with  what  his  young  compa- 
triots suffered  at  the  front.  He  nar- 
rates that  as  soon  as  he  arose  from 
darkness  in  the  course  of  1918  he  re- 
solved to  dedicate  his  scholarship  to 
the  cause  of  his  humiliated  country, 
for  whose  sake  he  had  not  been  able 
to  do  his  military  duty.8  Needless  to 
say  that  Hirsch’s  entry  on  the  theo- 
logical proscenium  did  not  pass  un- 
noticed. He  forced  his  way  in  two 
distinctive  areas.  A work  of  out- 
standing scholarship,  The  Theology 
of  Andreas  Qsiander,  came  out  in  the 
year  1919  and  assured  him  immedi- 
ate recognition.  He  could  then  re- 
strict his  production  to  scholarly 
works  and  easily  become  one  of  the 
leading  German  Luther  scholars. 
Yet  he  did  not  make  his  mark  as 
such  because,  as  he  avowed  later,  he 
believed  he  had  a mission  of  another 
kind,  that  of  reconciling  Christianity 
and  humanity  in  the  German  cir- 
cumstances.9 * * * As  theologian  and  pa- 
triot he  did  not  value  the  historian’s 
inveterate  aloofness.  He  felt  more 
like  an  apologete.  Thus  the  ensuing 
publication  foretold  any  reader  that 
ethical,  political  theologizing  was  to 
become  his  prevailing  line  of 
thought.  Intentionally  polemical, 
Hirsch  entitled  his  compiled  refiec- 
tions  on  the  war  and  the  remedy  to 
its  disastrous  outcome,  dated  1921, 

8 See  Meine  Wendejahre  1916-1921. 

» Ibid.,  p.  5;  Walter  Buff.  Karl  Barth  and 

E.  Hirsch,  in  Christliche  Wahrheit  und  neu- 

zeithche  Den^en  (edited  by  H.  M.  Muller),  p. 


The  Fate  of  Germany.'0  As  this  work 
betrays  his  resentment  and  bitterness 
that  arose  from  the  defeat  and  his 
aversion  for  social  democracy  and 
Marxism,  it  also  conveys  his  unre- 
signed optimism  in  the  future.  The 
Fate  of  Germany  is  divided  into  two 
parts:  first  the  account  of  the  philo- 
sophical and  theological  founda- 
tions," then  their  application  to  con- 
crete life,  especially  to  law.  State, 
people,  war,  society,  and  destiny.'2 
The  author  formulates  his  axiomatic 
principle  in  these  terms:  “human 
history  and  the  thought  of  God  nec- 
essarily belong  together.”'3  He  con- 
tends that  to  understand  human  his- 
tory, and  of  course  contemporary 
German  history,  one  must  ponder  its 
metaphysical  core  and  seize  upon  its 
inherent  religious  relatedness. 14  This 
forms  the  foundation-stone  of  his 
system.  The  ensuing  emphasis  is  laid 
on  the  personal  moral  decision.'5 
Within  the  inwardness  of  conscious- 
ness the  individual  hears  the  call  of 
God  inviting  him  to  reach  a personal 
decision.  This  decision  becomes  ef- 
fectively moral  while  the  individual 
commits  himself  to  a communal  or 
national  mandate.  Connecting  the 

10  E.  Hirsch.  Deutschland  Schicksal.  Staat, 
Volk  und  Menschheit  im  Licht  einer  ethi- 
schen  Geschichtsansicht.  Gottingen,  1921. 

" Ibid.,  pp.  5-63. 

12  Ibid.,  pp.  64-166. 

13  “Menschheitsgeschichte  und  Gottesge- 
danke  gehoren  notwendig  zusammen," 
ibid.,  p.  14. 

'•>  “Der  Grundstein  meiner  ganzen  Ge- 
schichtsauffasung  ist:  die  Menschheitsge- 
schichte kann,  im  ganzen  wie  im  einzelnen, 
nur  von  dem  verstanden  werden,  der  ihren 
metaphysischen  Kern  und  lhre  religiose  Be- 
ziehung  sieht.”  Ibid.,  p.  14. 

15  “Aus  der  Gewissheit  ihrer  Bezogenheit 
auf  ein  Ewiges  heraus  eint  sich  eine  indivi- 
duelle  Seele  mit  diesem  Ewigen  durch  Beja- 
hung  einer  bestimmten  Pflicht.”  Ibid.,  p.  17. 


1 6 1 

Lutheran  concept  of  office  with  the 
category  of  consciousness,  Hirsch  as- 
serts that  any  moral  decision  leads  to 
responsibility  within  one’s  natural 
community.'6  Once  applied  to  social 
and  political  life  it  follows  that  the 
purpose  and  duty  of  Germans  in 
those  days  was  to  regain  what  Ger- 
many lost  with  the  outcome  of  the 
war.17  Nothing  is  irredeemable,  nei- 
ther the  defeat  nor  the  current  wast- 
ing of  the  Weimar  social  democracy. 
In  the  substantiation  of  his  claim 
Hirsch  brings  two  concepts  to  the 
fore;  the  concept  of  people  and  the 
concept  of  State.  Both  are,  according 
to  the  author,  institutions  ( confima ) 
created  by  God  in  order  to  enable 
people  sharing  the  same  historical 
destiny  to  live  and  prosper  in  peace 
and  harmony.'8  What  is  new  here  is 
undoubtedly  the  introduction  of  a 
new  ordinance  of  creation  owing  to 
Wilhelm  Stapel,  the  ordinance  of 
people.  This  led  to  a reflection  on  the 
essence  of  people,  which  was  a fea- 
ture of  the  common  character  of  the 
political  theologians  of  the  late  twen- 
ties and  early  thirties,  namely  Wil- 
helm Stapel,  Paul  Althaus,  Friedrich 
Gogarten,  and  Emanuel  Hirsch. 

One  should  not  rule  out  that 
Hirsch  might  have  had  in  mind  to 
raise  up  a social,  ethical  revolution.'9 
It  would  indeed  explain  why  he  con- 
futed on  the  one  hand  the  anhistori- 
cism  of  the  dialectical  theologians 
and  on  the  other  hand  the  nihilism 
and  skepticism  of  Nietzsche’s  phi- 
losophy and  Oswald  Spengler’s  De- 
cline of  the  West.20  Hirsch  was  deter- 

16  Ibid.,  p.  32. 

17  Ibid.,  p.  146. 

■8  Ibid.,  p.  80. 

19  W.  Tilgner.  Volksnomostheologie  und 
Schopfungsglaube . Gottingen,  1966,  p.  138. 

20  E.  Hirsch.  Oswald  Spenglers  “Untergang 

mined  to  give  history  a theological 
meaning.  Therefore  he  strove  to 
conciliate  anew  human  truth  with 
Christian  truth  on  the  basis  of  the  as- 
sumption of  a religious  intuition  in 
all  human  consciousness  of  truth. 
Friedrich  Bobel  was  undoubtedly 
right  in  showing  that  Hirsch  was  in 
search  of  a new  theology  of  concilia- 
tion ( Vermittlungstheologie ).2'  In  the 
last  chapter  of  The  Fate  of  Germany 
the  author  draws  up  a program  to 
change  the  whole  political  situation 
for  the  better.  He  suggests  that  there 
should  be  an  increase  in  the  power  of 
the  Reichsprasident,  he  demands 
more  respect  for  the  law  from  his 
compatriots,  and  he  pleads  in  favor 
of  social  and  industrial  reform.22  The 
Fate  of  Germany  ends  with  reserva- 
tion: this  moral  effort  cannot  be  ful- 
filled without  the  support  of  faith. 
Therefore  the  German  people  who 
are  responsible  for  the  moral  col- 
lapse of  their  country  should  become 
a pious  people.23 

Partly  emanating  from  Heinrich 
von  Kleist’s  famous  Catechism  of  the 
Germans , Hirsch’s  following  publi- 
cation is  significantly  entitled  The 
hove  of  One’s  Country .24  The  objec- 
tive of  what  is  but  a collection  of  lec- 

des  Abendlandes.”  In:  Der  GeisteskampI  der 
Gegenwart,  56,  1920,  pp.  127- 133. 

21  F.  Bobel.  Menschliche  and  christliche 
Wahrheit  bei  E.  Hirsch.  Erlangen,  1963,  p.  7. 

22  E.  Hirsch.  Deutschland  Schic/{sal,  pp. 

23  “Solche  Einheit  vieler  aus  freiestem 
sittlichen  Wollen  heraus  kann  nur  aber  nur 
durch  eine  Macht  geschalfen  werden,  durch 
die  des  Glaubens.  (.  . .)  Wir  Deutsche  miissen 
ein  frommes  Volk  werden,  ein  Volk,  in  dem 
das  Evangelium  Macht  hat  iiber  die  Gewis- 
sen.  Sonst  werden  wir  unsers  Schicksals 
nicht  Herr.”  Ibid.,  p.  153. 

24  E.  Hirsch.  Die  Liebe  zum  Vaterland. 
Langensalza,  1924.  (The  “Katechismus  der 
Deutschen”  is  mentioned  on  p.  5.) 



tures  delivered  to  nationalist  stu- 
dents at  Gottingen  is  to  provide 
evidence  of  the  natural  character  of 
patriotism.  The  love  of  one’s  country 
is  defined  as  a blood-given  reality 
and  its  manifestation  is  perceived  in 
the  immediacy  of  life.25  Patriotism 
bears  two  characteristics:  national 
feeling  and  concrete  adherence  to  a 
State.26  From  an  ethical  point  of 
view  this  kind  of  love  demands  obe- 
dience to  the  worldly  laws  of  the  na- 
tional, folkish  (vol^isch)  State.  These 
laws  are  not  genuine  human  crea- 
tions: they  are  divine  laws.  As  laws 
of  creation  they  express  the  divine 
will  of  the  Creator  for  his  creatures. 
On  closer  examination  one  can  dis- 
cover that  Hirsch  has  integrated  in 
his  thinking  process  the  juridical, 
philosophical,  and  biological  cate- 
gory of  folkdom  ( Volkstum ).  It  is 
borrowed  from  Wilhelm  Stapel,  an 
editor  of  a famous  nationalist  jour- 
nal, Deutsches  Volkstum , who  devel- 
oped a very  influential  theology  of 
nationalism.27  The  category  of  folk- 
dom embodies  the  metaphysical 
principles  which  underlay  the  living 
reality  of  a particular  people.  These 
principles  are  of  two  different  kinds; 

25  “Immer  im  Blute  gelegen”;  “in  leben- 
diger  Unmittelbarkeit.’  Ibid.,  p.  6. 

26  “Nach  lhrer  ersten,  urspriinglichen 
Seite  kann  Vaterlandsliebe  nichts  anders  sein 
denn  Nationalgefiihl.  D.h.  sie  lasst  uns  des 
Volkes  Leben  empfinden  als  unser  eigenes 
Leben.”  Ibid.,  p.  8.  “Sie  hat  noch  eine  andre 
Seite.  Auch  an  den  Staat  sind  wir  durch  un- 
ser Umfangensein  von  der  Volksgemein- 
schaft  innerlich  gebunden,  und  durch  diese 
Bindung  wirkt  in  der  Vaterlandsliebe  leben- 
dig  sich  aus.”  Ibid.,  p.  9. 

27  Wilhelm  Stapel.  Volksburgerliche  Erzie- 
hung.  Jena,  1917,  pp.  5 1 ff-  Stapel’s  theology  of 
nationalism  was  completed  in  1932:  Der 
chnstliche  Staat  smarm.  Erne  Theologie  des  Na- 
tionalismus . (Hamburg). 

the  first  is  biological  while  the  sec- 
ond is  ethical.  Blood  on  the  one  hand 
and  morals  on  the  other.  Beyond 
Stapel  it  is  Darwin’s  theory  of  the  or- 
igin of  species  that  is  here  obviously 
reflected.  Thus  Hirsch  operates  a 
correlation  of  “bios”  and  “ethos”  in 
order  to  give  a solid  foundation  to 

Two  consequential  teachings  are 
worth  drawing  out  of  The  Love  of 
One’s  Country.  In  the  first  instance 
the  ethical  and  metaphysical  value  of 
the  historical  and  natural  reality,  and 
in  the  second  place  the  revelatory 
agency  of  the  divine  ordinances  of 
creation  such  as  law,  people,  and 
State.  For,  if  we  consider  that  a hu- 
man being  fulfills  herself  or  himself 
as  a moral,  responsible  being  only 
within  the  natural  frame  of  his  or 
her  people  and  nation,  then  we 
must  admit  that  the  historical,  natu- 
ral reality  of  one’s  people  and  State 
expresses  as  ordinances  of  creation 
the  very  will  of  the  Creator.  This 
line  of  thought  originates  from  the 
late  Enlightenment  and  the  early 
Romantics.  The  first  in  Germany  to 
theorize  about  the  phenomenon  of 
folk  was  Johann  Gottfried  Herder. 
He  sustained  the  view  that  what 
formed  any  existing  folk  on  earth 
was  an  organic  unity  of  life.  Behind 
that  unity  stood  the  divine  will  of  the 
Creator.  Thus  the  notion  of  people 
had  become  an  ordinance  of  crea- 
tion. In  his  philosophy  of  history  he 
paid  a special  attention  to  the  “folk- 
ish spirit”  which  he  regarded  as  an 
internal  agent  of  the  historical  devel- 
opment of  humanity.  For  his  part 
Friedrich  Schleiermacher  coupled 
Herder’s  concept  of  people  with  the 

28  E.  Hirsch.  Die  Liebe  zum  Vaterland , 
p.  16. 


new  European  idea  of  national  State. 
Hence  the  national,  folkish  State  was 
described  as  the  embodiment  in  an 
organized  structure  of  the  organic 
community  of  individuals  having  in 
common  a language,  a culture,  and  a 
history.  Yet  it  was  Johann  Gottlieb 
Fichte  who  finally  unfolded  in  the 
Eighth  Speech  to  the  German  Nation  a 
genuine  folkish  doctrine  of  people. 
His  philosophy  evinced  that  the  phe- 
nomenon of  folk  is  a historical,  di- 
vine revelation  which  follows  its 
own  course.  One  of  the  most  fasci- 
nating changes  that  occurred  from 
Herder  to  Fichte  is  the  narrowing  of 
the  perspective  from  which  the  no- 
tion of  people  is  reflected  upon.  It  is 
reduced  from  a cosmopolitan  to  a 
national  perspective.  Unsurprisingly 
Fichtean,  Hirsch  argues  in  The  Love 
of  One’s  Country  that  universal  na- 
tions among  which  he  counts  Ger- 
many are  especially  called  to  fulfill 
the  will  of  God.29 

One  might  rightly  expect  from 
what  we  have  been  suggesting  that 
Emanuel  Hirsch  conceived  a rather 
idealistic  interpretation  ot  history. 
But  this  is  denied  by  the  struggle 
over  philosophy  of  history  that  he 
waged  against  Hegel  and  Fichte  in 
his  1926  Idealist  Philosophy  and  Chris- 
tianity.30  It  was  mainly  his  desire  to 
deal  with  reality  that  aroused  his 
critical  view.  What  he  stigmatizes 
here  is  the  subjective  reduction  and 
the  idea  of  fulfillment  of  the  histori- 
cal process.  In  his  opinion  idealism 
failed  to  give  full  objectivity  to  his- 
torical and  earthly  reality.  Confuting 
Hegel’s  conception  of  absolute  his- 
tory and  refuting  the  belief  in  the  au- 

29  Ibid.,  p.  25. 

3°  E.  Hirsch.  Die  idealistische  Philosophic 
und  das  Chnstentum.  Giitersloh,  1926,  p.  in. 


tonomy  of  the  idea  and  the  idealistic 
vision  of  Providence  which  relates 
liberty  to  the  Kingdom  of  God, 
Hirsch  advocates  an  analogy  be- 
tween the  moral  world  and  history.3' 
It  has  been  shown  that  Hirsch  gave 
preference  to  an  ethico-theistic  view 
of  history.32  Alongside  the  refutation 
of  the  idealistic  view  of  history  we 
also  find  a refutation  of  the  dichot- 
omy of  subject  and  object  inherent  to 
Fichtean  epistemology.  Denying  the 
isolation  of  the  subject  in  the  Self, 
Hirsch  insists  on  the  faith  creating 
encounter  of  God  and  humanity  in 
consciousness.33  In  consciousness 
God  and  human  being  are  brought 

For  the  attainment  of  an  accurate 
appreciation  of  Hirsch’s  early  theo- 
logical motives  reference  needs  to  be 
made  to  the  controversies  that  he 
waged  against  the  so-called  Dialec- 
tical School  in  the  1920s.  To  his  col- 
league and  friend,  Paul  Althaus, 
Hirsch  wrote  in  the  year  1922  that 
Barth  was  the  man  whose  theology 
and  personality  they  had  to  contend 
with,  a difficult  task  that  required 
prayer  and  much  love.34  It  was 
mainly  for  two  reasons,  one  political, 
one  theological,  that  Hirsch  disap- 
proved of  this  new  trend  in  protes- 
tant  theology  from  its  very  outset. 
He  spotted  some  remainders  of  reli- 
gious socialism  in  Barth’s  1919  Com- 
mentary on  the  Romans  and  1920 
Christian  in  Society , and  detected 
anti-German  feelings  in  the  stand 
that  his  Swiss  colleague  took  when 

3'  Ibid.,  p.  1 13. 

32  G.  Schneider-Flume.  Die  politische 
Theologie  E.  Hirsch  1918-1933.  Frankfurt  a. 
M.  1971,  p.  42. 

33  E.  Hirsch.  Die  idealistische  Philosophic,  p. 

33  Hirsch  to  Althaus  on  May  7,  1922. 



the  French  occupied  the  Ruhr  in 
early  1923.  Barth  reports  in  a letter  to 
Eduard  Thurneysen  of  January  23, 
1923,  that  infuriated  Hirsch  ejacu- 
lated towards  him  “Swiss,  alien,  in- 
citer, disturber  of  peace.”35  As  a Ger- 
man nationalist  Hirsch  could  but 
react  vividly  against  the  showing  of 
so  little  understanding  for  the  Ger- 
man predicament  and  the  German 
ethos.  Besides,  a lecture  on  Nation, 
State  and  Christianity 36  that  Hirsch 
delivered  at  Gottingen  in  March  of 
the  same  year  irked  Barth  to  the 
point  of  accusing  Hirsch  of  no 
longer  being  a Christian.37  That  was 
for  the  political  reason.  On  the  theo- 
logical level,  Hirsch  vehemently 
confuted  the  paradoxical  feature  of 
revelation  because  of  its  most  re- 
grettable outcome,  the  abolition  of 
consciousness  as  the  seat  of  human 
divine  encounter.  To  counter  the 
growing  influence  of  the  review, 
Zwischen  den  Zeiten,  he  started  in 
1923  with  Paul  Althaus  and  Carl 
Stange  a new  theological  journal, 
Zeitschrift  fur  systematische  Theologie. 
Yet  this  reciprocal  antagonism 
should  not  lead  us  to  the  conclusion 
that  Hirsch  and  Barth  were  feuded 
at  the  time  of  their  teaching  at  Got- 
tingen. On  the  contrary,  they  were 
rather  on  friendly  terms,  going  out 
together  for  conversational  strolls 
and  having  sometimes  late  night 
talks.38  As  a matter  of  fact  both  were 

33  K.  Barth.  Briefwechsel,  p.  13 1. 

36  E.  Hirsch.  Nation,  Staat  und  Christen  - 
turn.  30  Thesen.  Mitteilungen  zur  Forderung 
einer  deutsche  christlichen  Studentenbewe- 
gung,  1923,  Nr.  6,  pp.  82-84. 

37  K.  Barth.  Briefwechsel  (with  Thurney- 
sen) letter  of  May  18,  1923;  pp.  1 63 ff. 

3“  K.  Barth.  Briefwechsel , letter  to  Bult- 
mann,  October  9,  1923,  and  to  Thurneysen 

fascinated  by  each  other’s  personal- 
ity but  repulsed  by  each  other’s 

In  the  year  1923  the  quest  for  a 
contemporary  ethics  provided  a 
bone  of  contention  with  Friedrich 
Gogarten.  Urged  by  Barth  Gogarten 
launched  the  first  attack  of  the  Dia- 
lectical School  upon  Hirsch’s  ethico- 
theistic  view  of  history  based  on  Karl 
Hoiks  interpretation  of  the  Lutheran 
doctrine  of  the  Two  Realms.  The  es- 
sence of  Gogarten’s  argument  in 
Ethics  of  Consciousness  or  Ethics  of 
Grace  was  that  the  Reformer  did  not 
believe  that  faith  in  Christ  was  a nec- 
essary prerequisite  for  a righteous 
and  equitable  earthly  order  ( welt - 
liche  Regiment).  Gogarten  raised 
seven  objections  to  the  views  pro- 
pounded in  The  Fate  of  Germany , 
namely:  God  is  not  an  ethical  prin- 
ciple nor  is  the  remission  of  sin;  faith 
and  grace  give  the  terms  of  Christian 
ethics  and  not  the  reverse;  the  voice 
of  consciousness  is  not  identical  with 
the  revelation  of  God;  the  “either- 
or”  human  decision  is  exclusive;  cul- 
ture, ethics,  and  religion  are  but  hu- 
man means  to  secure  a relation  to 
God;  spiritual  and  internal  life  of 
consciousness  or  of  the  Kingdom  of 
God  is  not  related  to  the  external  life 
of  society  and  State;  and  finally  a 
positive  vision  of  history  which  rules 
out  all  chaotic  elements  is  pelagian, 
mystical,  humanistic,  and  idealistic. 
On  the  other  hand  Gogarten  pro- 
posed to  establish  the  doctrine  of  cre- 
ation on  the  doctrine  of  redemption 
as  justification  by  faith,  to  infer  the 
ethics  from  the  Gospel,  to  identify 
the  core  of  history  with  sin,  and  to 

on  December  12,  1921;  February  11  & 26, 
1922;  April  2,  1922. 


cast  out  any  sanctification  by  the 
means  of  earthly  commitments.39 
What  Gogarten  was  eventually  ar- 
guing was  that  Christ  was  the  agent 
of  God’s  revelation,  that  Christian 
ethics  depended  on  the  justificatio 
impii  and  that  the  diastasis  between 
God  and  humanity  did  not  allow  any 
continuity  even  morally  from  the 
latter  to  the  former.  It  was  clear  that 
Hirsch’s  reply  could  but  recall  his 
basic  position.  Hirsch  deplored  that 
Gogarten  did  not  seem  to  under- 
stand the  historical  relevancy  of  the 
human  relation  to  the  transhistori- 
cal.4°  To  which  Gogarten  retorted 
that  Hirsch  misunderstood  the  op- 
position of  Law  and  Gospel,  and  that 
he  was  only  concerned  with  correla- 

Hirsch’s  and  Bultmann’s  life  of 
Jesus  came  out  the  same  year  1926 
and  both  authors  subjected  each 
other’s  work  to  critical  review.42 
While  Hirsch  regretted  the  absence 
of  the  focal  relation  of  the  existential 
decision  with  the  eschatological 
prospect  at  the  heart  of  Bultmann’s 
presentation  of  the  life  of  Jesus,  Bult- 
mann  argued  that  Hirsch  had  com- 
posed just  another  liberal  and  ideal- 
ist christology  with  a sentimental 
and  humanized  picture  of  Jesus. 

Finally  on  which  aim  had  Hirsch 

39  F.  Gogarten.  Ethi\  des  Gewissens  oder 
Ethil{der  Gnade,  ZZ,  1,  1923,  pp.  10-33. 

40  E.  Hirsch.  Zum  Problem  der  Ethi\.  Er- 
underung  an  F.  Gogarten.  ZZ,  1,  1923,  pp.  52- 

4‘  F.  Gogarten.  Erwiderung  an  E.  Hirsch. 
ZZ,  1,  1923,  pp.  57-62. 

42  R.  Bultmann.  Jesus.  Tubingen,  1926; 
E.  Hirsch.  Jesus  Christus  der  Herr.  Gottingen, 
1926;  R.  Bultmann.  Zur  Frage  der  Christolo- 
gle , ZZ,  5,  1927,  pp.  41-69;  E.  Hirsch.  Bult- 
manns  Jesus.  In:  Zeitwende  2,  1926,  pp.  309- 

1 65 

set  his  heart  after  the  First  World 
War?  He  was  bent  on  compounding 
a new  personal  and  socio-political 
ethics  in  order  to  prepare  the  re- 
establishment of  a folkish  and  au- 
thoritarian State.  Consequently  the 
categories  of  history  (Holl)  and  of 
personal  decision  (Kierkegaard)  and 
the  notions  of  people  or  folk  and 
State  (Stapel)  structured  a national 


A short  spell  of  time,  from  1930 
until  1933,  marks  the  second  phase 
of  Hirsch’s  national-historical  theol- 
ogy. With  the  breakthrough  of  the 
National-socialist  Party  in  the  gen- 
eral election  of  September  1930 
Hirsch  had  his  mind  full  of  a rising 
hope  in  a national  resurrection.  His 
growing  enthusiasm  was  clearing 
away  all  residual  bitterness,  aloof- 
ness, and  skepticism  kept  alive  by 
the  Weimar  democratic  system. 
Two  significant  works,  one  dogmat- 
ical and  the  other  historical,  reflect 
this  shift:  Creation  and  Sin,  dated 
1931,  and  a monograph  on  the  Dan- 
ish philosopher  dedicated  to  Eduard 
Geismar  (1871-1939),  Kierkegaard  - 
Studien,  from  1933,  which  estab- 
lished his  worldwide  reputation  in 
the  field.  Four  remarks  suffice  to 
characterize  the  latter  work.  First, 
Hirsch  takes  the  view  opposite  to 
Barth’s  interpretation  in  emphasiz- 
ing the  relatedness  of  scientifical  ob- 
jectivity and  existential  subjectivity. 
Second,  he  contends  that  Kierke- 
gaard’s private  diary  holds  the  key  to 
his  personality.  Third,  he  argues  that 
the  dialectic  of  the  poetic  and  the  re- 
ligious is  to  be  understood  and  ex- 
pounded within  the  framework  of 
the  author’s  personal  experience. 



And  last,  he  strives  to  bring  Kierke- 
gaard’s philosophy  closer  to  his  own 
theological  motives.  Tackling  the 
idea  of  contemporaneity  at  the  close 
of  his  monograph  Hirsch  substitutes 
the  pagan  environment  of  the  New 
Testament  by  the  German  natural 
ethos  that  he  calls  “anticipating  form 
of  Christianity”  (Vorgestalt  des  Chri- 
stentums ).43 

Set  against  the  background  of  the 
German  situation  of  the  1930s  Crea- 
tion and  Sin  constitutes  undoubtedly 
one  of  Hirsch’s  most  typical  and  con- 
troversial writings.  Neither  Karl 
Barth  nor  Emil  Brunner  missed  the 
opportunity  in  their  critical  assess- 
ment. In  the  introduction  the  ques- 
tion of  the  possibility  of  being  a 
Christian  in  the  present  circum- 
stances is  raised  and  the  answer  is 
said  to  be  found  in  an  analysis  of  the 
relation  of  creation  to  sin.  The  au- 
thor is  concerned  with  reality,  not 
ideality,  and  therefore  fixes  two  pa- 
rameters, nature  and  history.  The 
new  ethics  he  intends  to  give  shape 
to  should  deal  with  the  natural-his- 
torical reality — the  very  reality  in 
which  the  Christian  lives.  From 
where  does  it  originate,  enquires 
Hirsch,  that  nowadays  the  words 
leader  ( Fiihrer ) and  leadership 
(. Fiihrertum ) are  on  everyone’s  lip, 
and  he  surmises  that  their  use  corre- 
sponds to  an  actual  need.  Thus  the 
theologian  feels  compelled  to  re- 
model Christian  ethics  in  order  to 
satisfy  the  requirements  of  the  time. 
In  his  judgment  the  storm  troopers 
of  the  N.S.D.A.P.  exemplify  modern 
leadership,  on  which  basis  Christian 

•>*  E.  Hirsch.  Kierkegaard -Studien.  2 vols. 
Gutersloh,  1933,  pp.  947th;  J.  H.  Schjorring. 
Theologische  Gewissensethik  and  politische 
Wirklichkeit.  Gottingen,  1979,  pp.  163ft. 

leadership  should  be  thought  anew. 
True  leadership  exists  where  the 
leader  emerges  naturally  from  the 
natural-historical  context  and  when 
he  is  guided  by  the  Spirit  of  God.  To 
think  anew  Christian  leadership, 
one  must  first  of  all  differentiate  in 
the  doctrine  of  God  God’s  activity  as 
Creator  from  his  activity  as  Re- 
deemer and  afterwards  recall  the 
fundamental  ambiguity  of  Christian 
anthropology.  For,  tbe  individual 
being  is  the  object  of  divine  creation 
as  well  as  the  subject  of  human  sin.44 

What  is  in  Hirsch’s  view  the  pro- 
pitious method  to  attain  this  end? 
The  author  contends  that  the 
knowledge  of  faith  is  always  self- 
knowledge  in  the  light  of  the  divine 
word.  Accordingly  the  best  way  to 
reach  the  psychological  Self  is  to  pro- 
ceed to  the  psychological  display  or 
analysis,  because  life,  action  and 
thought  are  focused  on  the  Self.  Fur- 
thermore to  perform  this  disclosure 
of  the  intimate  Self  one  ought  to  take 
into  account  both  God’s  judgment 
upon  us  and  God’s  hiddenness.  Re- 
ferring to  Kierkegaard  he  declares 
his  intention  to  be  to  understand  hu- 
man ethical  decisions  as  dialectic  of 
inwardness.  The  last  matter  to 
which  the  author  draws  his  attention 
is  the  field  of  the  divine  revelation. 
For  Hirsch  it  is  misleading  from  a 
Christian  point  of  view  to  sunder  the 
divine  revelation  from  God’s  crea- 
tion, that  is  from  the  natural-histor- 
ical reality.  There  is  no  natural-his- 
torical reality  in  itself  apart  from 

44  E.  Hirsch.  Schopfung  und  Siinde  in  der 
natiirlich-geschichtlichen  Wirklichkeit  des 
Menschen.  Tubingen,  1931,  pp.  iii,  3,  5,  6,  9, 

44  Ibid.,  pp.  12,  13  (als  Dialektik  der  Inner- 
lichkeit),  14. 



The  main  body  of  Creation  and 
Sin  is  divided  in  three  parts.  In  the 
first  part  the  author  scrutinizes  the 
relatedness  of  creation  and  sin  in  the 
light  of  general  grace.  The  same  re- 
lation is  explored  in  the  second  part 
in  the  context  of  special  grace  or 
grace  of  reconciliation.  Focusing  on 
Christian  leadership  and  on  the  cure 
of  souls  within  the  framework  of 
creation  and  sin,  the  last  part  deals 
with  the  notion  of  good  and  with  the 
love  of  Christ.46 

What  then  can  be  said  of  Hirsch’s 
1931  ethical  endeavor? 

To  assess  its  outcome  we  propose 
to  make  nine  remarks:  1)  a general 
revelation  seems  implicit;  2)  general 
anthropology  rests  on  general  grace 
whereas  special  anthropology  (the 
redeemed  human  being — homo  no- 
vus)  depending  on  special  grace  is 
peripherally  sketched;  3)  there  is  a 
relation  to  God  universally  given  in 
consciousness  which  organ  is  called 
interception  (Auffangsform)  and 
which  is  a reminiscent  ot  Schleier- 
macher’s  religious  intuition  and 
Ernst  Troeltsch’s  religous  Apriori; 
4)  the  category  of  paradox,  which  is 
traceable  beyond  Kierkegaard,  He- 
gel, Hamann,  and  Luther  to  Cu- 
sanus,  appears  to  be  the  keystone  of 
the  whole  structure;  5)  the  Christian 
doctrine  of  leadership  is  grounded 
on  Providence  to  such  an  extent  that 
it  clears  the  way  for  synergism;  6)  the 
association  of  general  grace  with 
special  grace  on  the  one  fiand  and  of 
natural-historical  reality  with  love  of 
Christ  on  the  other  hand  occults  the 
Old  Testament  in  the  economy  of 
salvation;  7)  though  the  Kingdom  of 
God  informs  the  “telos"  of  human 
existence,  the  natural-historical  real- 

46  Ibid.,  pp.  16-39,  39-59,  60-100. 

ity  delimits  the  “topos”  of  all  moral 
commitment  and  is  thereby  sancti- 
fied; 8)  various  materials  have  been 
borrowed  from  Karl  Holl,  Imman- 
uel Kant,  Johann  Gottlieb  Fichte, 
and  S0ren  Kierkegaard  so  that  prac- 
tical reason  and  decisionism  are  cou- 
pled in  the  philosophical  substruc- 
ture; 9)  to  appreciate  in  optimam 
partem  Hirsch’s  ethical  proposals  one 
should  fairly  underline  a twofold 
achievement,  namely  an  ethic  of 
consciousness,  which  relates  the  par- 
adox to  the  instant  of  the  decision, 
and  a theology  of  mediation  which 
preludes  the  integration  of  political 

As  was  to  be  expected  Barth  did 
not  hesitate  to  pass  strictures  upon 
Creation  and  Sin.  The  synthetical 
view  of  protology  or  doctrine  of  cre- 
ation and  hamartiology  or  doctrine 
of  sin  seemed  to  him  nothing  else 
than  a gnostic  production.  Follow- 
ing the  same  trend,  Emil  Brunner 
accused  Hirsch  of  gnostic  heresy,  of 
making  a speculative  philosophy  al- 
ien to  Christian  faith,  and  of  failing 
to  establish  anthropology  on  the  in- 
tersubjective  relationship  (I-Thou).47 
He  expectedly  disparaged  Hirsch’s 
idealistic  theology  of  consciousness 
based  on  ethical  anthropology. 

The  1932  “Dehn  Case”  formed 
another  episode  in  the  inveterately 
bellicose  disagreement  between 
Hirsch  and  Barth.  This  quarrel  epit- 
omized their  irreconcilable  political 
divergence.  Gunther  Dehn  (1882- 
1970),  one  of  the  founders  of  the  Re- 
ligious-socialist League  started  in 
1919,  delivered  in  1928  at  an  ecclesi- 

47  K.  Barth.  Kirchliche  Dogmati\  I,  1,  p. 
431;  E.  Brunner.  Das  Gebot  and  die  Ordnun- 
gen , Tubingen,  1932,  pp.  586,  596,  61 1; 
E.  Brunner.  Dogmatic  II,  p.  28. 


1 68 

astical  conference  at  Magdeburg  a 
progressive  and  naively  pacifist  lec- 
ture on  Church  and  People  Reconcili- 
ation. Dehn  condemned  the  glorifi- 
cation of  war  and  pleaded  for  peace 
and  reconciliation.  The  paper  was 
published  at  the  close  of  1931  after 
the  troubles  caused  by  nationalist 
students  at  the  University  of  Halle 
where  Dehn  had  just  been  ap- 
pointed. The  incident  exacerbated 
people’s  feelings,  in  particular  on  the 
nationalist  side.  Hirsch  gave  his  full 
support  to  the  nationalist  students. 
Feeling  personally  concerned,  Barth 
took  sides  and  backed  the  Religious- 
socialists  arguing  that  a line  of  dis- 
tinction should  be  drawn  between 
Christianity  and  what  is  merely  na- 
tionalistic feeling,  militaristic  senti- 
ment, and  bellicose  yearnings.48 


We  have  now  reached  the  final 
stage  in  the  crystallization  of 
Hirsch’s  theology  of  nationalism. 
This  phase  can  be  best  characterized 
as  maturity  and  completion.  His  ma- 
jor contribution  to  the  general  spirit 
of  the  time,  which  was  nationalistic 
and  anti-semitic,  is  substantiated  by 
two  treatises  both  published  in  the 
year  1934:  Philosophical  and  Theolog- 
ical Reflection  on  Contemporary  Spir- 
itual Circumstances  and  German  Na- 
tionality and  Evangelical  Faith  A9 

48  Ernst  Bizer.  Der  Fall  Dehn.  Festschrift 
an  G.  Dehn,  ed.  W.  Schneemelder.  Neu- 
kirchen,  1957,  pp.  239-261;  G.  Dehn.  Kirche 
und  Volkerversohnung.  Berlin,  1931; 
E.  Hirsch.  Offener  Brief  an  K.  Barth.  In: 
Deutsches  Volkstum  1932,  pp.  266-272. 

49  E.  Hirsch.  Die  gegwartige  geistige  Lage 
im  Spiegel  philosophischer  und  theologischer 
Besinnung.  Gottingen,  1934;  Deutsches  Volkp- 
tum  und  evangelischer  Glaube.  Hamburg, 

There  is  a great  deal  of  continuity  in 
Hirsch’s  basic  interest.  As  The  Fate 
of  Germany  echoes  the  traumatic 
aftermath  of  the  1918  military  defeat 
and  of  the  fall  of  the  monarchy,  both 
treatises  reflect  the  “German  Turn” 
which  symbolized  Hitler’s  program 
of  government  made  public  on 
March  23,  1933.50 

Let  us  succinctly  draw  out  the 
substance  of  the  argumentation  of 
Philosophical  and  Theological  Reflec- 
tion, a treatise  which  pretends  to  ex- 
pound the  philosophical  and  theo- 
logical significance  of  the  “white 
revolution.”  What  strikes  immedi- 
ately is  the  superposition  of  two 
kinds  of  discourses — philosophical 
and  theological — and  thereby  the  in- 
evitable entanglement  of  two  crite- 
ria. Hirsch’s  argument  rests  on  three 
specific  concepts,  the  concept  of  Ho- 
ros  (God’s  time)  which  expresses  the 
intersection  of  the  eternal  will  of 
God  with  earthly  human  will;  the 
concept  of  Logos  which  embodies 
the  metaphysical  principle  at  the  or- 
igin of  the  existence  of  a folk  or  a na- 
tion; and  the  concept  of  Nomos  or 
divine  law  ruling  national  life.51  The 
essence  of  the  argument  is  that  the 
will  of  the  Lord  of  history,  which  in 
its  ordinary  way  underlay  natural- 
historical  reality  through  the  media- 
tion of  the  Logos  and  the  Nomos, 
happened  in  some  extraordinary 
way  to  meet  a particular  people,  in 
this  instance  Germany,  at  a particu- 
lar moment  of  its  history.  This  meet- 
ing is  the  Horos.  It  is  the  hour  of 
God  (Gottesstunde).  As  the  hour  of 
God  has  struck  Germany,  conse- 
quences must  be  drawn.  Thus  com- 

5°  E.  Hirsch.  Die gegenwartige  Lage , p.  26. 

Ibid.,  pp.  33EE,  28,  39. 


mitment  to  the  divine  will  is  de- 
manded from  each  German.52 
Horos,  Logos,  and  Nomos  have  their 
ontological  foundation  in  God  de- 
fined as  Lord  of  history  (Herr  der 
Geschichte).^  As  regards  the  cate- 
gory of  “confinium”  or  limit 
(Grenze)  which  refers  to  what  is  tra- 
ditionally called  ordinationes  Dei 
Creatoris — people,  state,  and  history 
in  this  instance,  in  the  frame  of 
which  God  expects  human  beings  to 
live — it  is  worth  noticing  in  passing 
an  echo  from  Paul  Tillich’s  Marxist 
emphasis  on  existential  decision 
(Kairos)  within  the  historical  proc- 
ess. Hirsch  borrowed  from  his  friend 
Tillich — his  political  opponent 
otherwise — the  concept  of  Kairos  in 
order  to  ascertain  that  the  German 
Turn  fulfilled  by  the  National-so- 
cialist State  bears  witness  to  a Very 
special  divine  revelation.54 

The  theology  of  ordinances  set 
forth  here  is  grounded  on  four  basic 
ideas:  first,  the  ordinance  of  people 
which  is  qualified  as  organic  unity, 
community  of  destiny,  biological  en- 
tity— blood  and  race — and  unwav- 
ering solidarity;  second,  the  ordi- 
nance of  State  that  Hirsch  defines  as 
the  “hidden  sovereign”;  third,  the 
twofold  dimension  of  law  within  the 
dialectic  of  law  and  Gospel,  namely 
as  personal  ethical  instance  within 
human  consciousness  and  as  natural 
law  through  worldly  obligations; 
and  last,  the  existential  approach 
which  objective  is  to  apprehend  the 
internal  Nomos  of  the  natural-his- 
torical reality  when  it  comes  to  its 
hour — a decisionism  which  pretends 

52  Ibid.,  pp.  42,  147. 

53  Ibid.,  p.  42. 

54  Ibid.,  p.  132. 


to  take  its  origin  from  Socrates  and 

The  question  at  issue  in  the  other 
treatise,  German  Nationality  and 
Evangelical  Faith , is  to  determine 
whether  the  Power  behind  the  Ger- 
man Turn  of  the  1930s  is  that  of  the 
biblical  God.  In  order  to  prove  his 
case  Hirsch  unfolds  two  fundamen- 
tal doctrines,  a doctrine  of  revelation 
and  a doctrine  of  God.56  On  scrip- 
tural and  historical  evidences  he  as- 
serts that  God  revealed  himself  as 
Father  and  Lord  of  history  twice,  in 
Christ  and  in  the  glorious  history  of 
German  nation.57  As  to  God  he  is 
characterized  as  Lord  of  honor,  as 
suffering  and  loving  God.5®  It  has 
been  rightly  maintained  that  the 
mutual  relation  of  Church  and  State 
was  the  way  Hirsch  envisaged  the 
Lutheran  dialectic  of  Law  and  Gos- 
pel.59 Indeed  he  understood  the  di- 
alectic of  Law  and  Gospel  as  dialec- 
tic of  external  (Lex  positiva)  and 
internal  life. 

Three  main  points  of  his  theology 
of  nationalism  are  eventually  made 
perfectly  clear  in  this  treatise:  first 
the  existence  of  two  sources  of  divine 
revelation,  namely  Christ  and  con- 
temporary German  history;  then  the 
sunderance  of  creation  and  redemp- 
tion; and  last,  the  acknowledgment 
of  a natural  knowledge  of  God 
through  consciousness  on  the  one 
hand  and  natural  law  on  the  other, 
while  the  supernatural  knowledge  of 

55  Ibid.,  pp.  28,  47,  60,  61,  70. 

56  E.  Hirsch.  Deutsches  Volkstum  und 
evang.  Glaube , pp.  11-16,  17-39. 

57  See  also  E.  Hirsch's  Der  Offenbarungs- 
glaube , 1934  (Bodesholm). 

58  E.  Hirsch.  Deutsches  Volkstum  und 
evang.  Glaube,  pp.  17,  29,  34. 

59  W.  Tilgner.  Op.  at.  p.  151. 



God  operates  as  usual  through 


Hirsch  had  never  been  a Church 
leader  nor  a member  of  a governing 
body  as  some  of  his  colleagues  were. 
Nevertheless  with  total  lack  of  ex- 
perience he  involved  himself  thrice 
in  the  Church  affairs  at  the  most 
critical  time  when  it  was  becoming 
unavoidable  for  the  churches  to  fight 
for  their  independence.  His  first  in- 
volvement took  place  from  April  to 
June  1933.  He  pleaded  in  favor  of  an 
evangelical  Nuncio  and  supported 
unconditionally  Ludwig  Muller’s 
policy  and  candidature  for  the  newly 
created  office  of  Reichsbishof.60  Lud- 
wig Muller,  a former  Head  Army 
chaplain  at  Konigsberg  and  Hitler’s 
protege,  was  standing  against  the  of- 
ficially designated  man  for  the  posi- 
tion, Friedrich  von  Bodelschwingh. 
Under  the  pressure  of  the  powerful 
German  Christians,  Bodelschwingh 
was  prompted  to  send  his  dismission 
and  Muller  was  elected  unopposed  at 
the  National  Synod  of  August  9, 
1934.  As  it  has  been  rightly  observed 
this  momentary  success  had  a major 
drawback.  It  isolated  Hirsch  on  the 
theological  and  ecclesiastical  scene.6' 

Though  Hirsch  was  not  an  adher- 
ent of  the  German  Christian  Move- 
ments, he  made  common  cause  with 
them  and  gave  his  support  to  their 
nationalistic  and  racial  Church  pol- 
icy in  some  decisive  articles  which 
ought  to  be  mentioned,  The  Ecclesi- 
astical Will  of  the  German  Christians 
(1933)  and  About  Church  and  Confes- 
sion (1934).62  Thus  the  German 

60  See  for  instance  the  “Miillerschen  Richt- 
linien”  composed  in  1933  by  Karl  Fezer. 

61 J.  H.  Schjorring.  Op.  at.  p.  i82ff. 

Christians,  who  associated  Christian 
faith  with  National-socialism,  re- 
garded him  as  one  of  theirs,  and 
more  so  after  he  took  a strong  stance 
on  Church  unity  in  the  year  1933. 
For  Hirsch  insisted  on  the  urgency 
of  establishing  a Reichskjrche  argu- 
ing that  there  should  be  a strong 
body  corresponding  to  the  structure 
of  the  new  Reich.  Yet  he  failed  to 
succeed  mainly  because  of  the  oppo- 
sition of  the  Land  Churches,  the 
Federation  of  1922,  and  some  theo- 
logical circles  and  influential  theolo- 
gians. The  German  Evangelical 
Church  (D.E.K.),  eventually  estab- 
lished on  July  11,  1933,  on  a federal 
basis,  was  a great  disappointment  for 
Hirsch,  the  German  Christians,  and 
Hitler.  So  was  the  outcome  of  his 
second  interference  in  Church  af- 

Hirsch’s  third  and  last  participa- 
tion in  ecclesiastical  matters  dates 
from  the  year  1934.  It  was  another 
episode  in  his  continual  attempt  to 
halt  the  march  of  the  dialectical  the- 
ologians. This  time  Hirsch  objected 
to  the  Confession  of  Barmen.  In  a 
more  polemical  fashion  than  Paul 
Althaus’  1934  Ansbacher  Ratschlag,  in 
which  he  deplored  the  anathemati- 
zation of  the  German  Christians  giv- 
ing preference  for  a constructive  cri- 
tique of  the  use  of  the  notion  of  folk 
and  of  the  concept  of  general  reve- 
lation, Hirsch  denounced  in  two  ar- 
ticles from  1934,  The  Faith  in  the 
Revelation  and  The  Path  of  Faith  f 
what  he  believed  were  four  unfor- 

62  E.  Hirsch.  Das  kirch liche  Wollen  des 
Deutschen  Christen.  Berlin,  1933;  Ueber 
Kirche  and  Bekenntnis.  In:  Deutsche  Evang. 
Kirche  1934,  pp.  1 - 16. 

63  E.  Hirsch.  Der  Offenbarungsglatibe,  Bor- 
desholm,  1934;  Der  Weg  des  Glaubens.  Bor- 
desholm,  1934. 


1 71 

givable  misjudgments,  namely 
above  all  a return  to  orthodoxy  and 
fundamentalism,  next  a confusion  of 
what  is  absolute  with  what  is  relative 
and  concrete,  then  a disruption  of 
revelation  and  historical  reality,  and 
finally  an  isolation  of  the  Reformed 
tradition  within  modern  Protestant- 
ism. His  critical  assessment  of  the 
Barmen  Declaration  gives  an  accu- 
rate account  of  his  political  and  the- 
ological stand  in  the  thirties.  It 
shows  the  unbridgeable  gulf  which 
separates  Hirsch  and  Barth. 

Before  concluding  our  survey,  a 
humorous  note  might  shed  another 
light  upon  Hirsch’s  amazing  person- 
ality. With  thoroughly  misguided 
foreknowledge  of  the  future,  Hirsch 
diagnosed  in  the  year  1940  the  end  of 
Barth’s  theological  credibility.  He 
accused  Barth  of  unfairness,  incon- 
sistency, wickedness,  and  cynicism 
for  supporting  the  English  and  the 
French  against  Germany  for  the 
sake  of  democracy.  How  could 
Barth’s  opportunistic  reversal  of 
opinion  not  raise  indignation,  in- 
quires Hirsch,  when  in  the  early 
twenties  he  constantly  appealed  to 
Luther  whom  he  now  discards  as 
“founder  of  German  paganism,”64 
amazing  Hirsch,  who  forgot  for  a 
moment  what  his  study  of  history 
taught  him  about  the  ambiguity  of 
historical  denouement.65  While  after 
the  war  Barth  rose  far  above  all  his 
challengers,  becoming  the  prevailing 
figure  of  protestant  theology, 
Hirsch,  the  advocate  of  history  who 

61  E.  Hirsch.  Karl  Barth.  Das  Ende  einer 
theologischen  Existenz.  Brief  an  einen  auslan- 
dischen  Freund.  Gottingen,  January  24, 
1940.  Hirsch  replies  to  Barth’s  letter  to  Wes- 
phal  (Foi  et  Vie,  December  1939). 

65  E.  Hirsch.  Die  Lage  der  Theologie.  D.Th. 
1936,  Heft  3,  p.  37. 

had  adhered  in  1937  to  the  National- 
socialist  Association  of  Teachers, 
was  compulsorily  pensioned  off  and 
lapsed  inevitably  into  utter  isolation 
and  oblivion.  And  what  was  even 
more  dreadful,  he  lost  his  son  in  Hit- 
ler’s war.  The  irony  of  history  was 
that  the  German  tragedy  coincided 
with  his  personal  tragic  destiny. 


To  form  a final  assessment  of  a 
system  once  unfolded  by  a theolo- 
gian now  sunk  in  oblivion,  it  can 
sometimes  be  enlightening  to  com- 
pare and  contrast  some  of  its  distinc- 
tive themes  with  those  of  some  of  his 
predecessors  and  contemporaries 
still  better  remembered. 

1.  Apologetics.  The  appreciation 
of  Emanuel  Hirsch’s  ethico-theolog- 
ical  task,  which  consisted  of  recon- 
sidering Christianity  in  a particular 
contemporary  socio-political  setting, 
leads  us  to  surmise  a motivating, 
underlying  apologetical  concern. 
Hirsch  did  not  want  to  witness  his- 
tory going  forward  at  the  expense  of 
Christianity.  This  remainder  of 
Schleiermacher’s  focal  motive  drew 
Hirsch  closer  to  the  dissidents  of  the 
Dialectical  School  who  strove  to  as- 
sociate the  Word  of  God  with,  re- 
spectively: an  existentialist  ontol- 
ogy— Bultmann;  the  ordinances  of 
Creation — Gogarten;  or  the  culture 
of  the  unbeliever— Brunner.  Con- 
trasted with  Brunner’s  eristic  task,66 
which  complemented  the  primordial 
dogmatical  task  of  expounding  the 
revelation,  Hirsch’s  apologetical  aim 
seems  to  override  all  other  theologi- 
cal considerations  so  as  to  embrace 
all  dogmatical  issues.  Hence  his  the- 

66  E.  Brunner.  Die  andere  Aufgabe  der 
Theologie.  ZZ,  7,  1929,  3,  pp.  255-276. 


ology  became  an  extended  apologet- 

2.  Consciousness  and  history.  As 
in  theology  consciousness  received 
its  credentials  from  both  Luther  and 
Calvin,  with  Schleiermacher  con- 
sciousness becoming  the  focus  of 
theology.  Besides,  Herder  had 
brought  history  to  the  fore.  Hence 
the  Neo-protestants  unfolded  some- 
times psychologism,  sometimes  his- 
toricism,  and  sometimes  a combina- 
tion of  both.  The  last  option  is  the 
one  Hirsch  made  his  own.  Beyond 
Wilhelm  Herrmann  the  affiliation  is 
traceable  back  to  Albrecht  Ritschl 
who  invalidated  any  future  use  of 
metaphysics  in  theology  for  the  ben- 
efit of  an  alliance  of  theology  with 
history.67  Thus  consciousness  and 
history  formed  the  two  poles  of  the 
substructure  of  the  theology  of  na- 
tionalism of  Emanuel  Hirscb. 

3.  The  point  of  insertion.  In  abso- 
lute contrast  to  Barth,68  Hirsch  and 
the  dissidents  of  the  Dialectical 
School  assigned  to  humanity  a point 
of  insertion  for  divine  grace.  Despite 
this  convergence  there  was  a major 
divarication  between  Hirsch  and  the 
dissidents  about  the  feature  of  the  in- 
sertion. Whereas  Hirsch  upheld  a 
positive,  constructive  point  of  inser- 
tion that  he  termed  “receptacle,”  the 
dissidents  proposed  a rather  negative 
predisposition  to  God,  a kind  of  for- 
mal openness  that  they  called  either 
“point  of  contact”  (Brunner)  or 
“self-understanding”  or  “sin"  (Bult- 
mann  and  Gogarten).69 

6?  A.  Ritschl.  Theologie  und  Metaphysi!{. 
Bonn, 1881 . 

68  K.  Barth.  Die  Theologie  und  der  heutige 
Mensch.  7TL,  8,  1930,  pp.  374-396,  p.  383; 
Kirchhche  Dogmatik  I/i,  1932,  p.  250. 

69  E.  Brunner.  Die  Frage  nach  dem  ‘An- 

4.  Continuity.  Treading  in 
Schleiermacher’s  footsteps  Hirsch 
set  forth  a historical  and  psychologi- 
cal continuity  between  the  human 
and  the  divine.  Intrinsic  to  con- 
sciousness, the  relatedness  of  human 
nature  to  God  belongs  to,  and  there- 
fore is  a part  of,  the  natural-histori- 
cal reality.  In  the  1930s  the  question 
of  a “continuum”  between  God  and 
humanity  became  a burning  issue  in 
the  Dialectical  School.  It  partly  gen- 
erated its  internal  division  and  the 
emergence  of  sub-schools. 

5.  Double  revelation.  In  a fashion 
similar  to  Herman  Bavinck,  Paul 
Althaus,  Friedrich  Gogarten,  and 
Emil  Brunner,70  who  all  differen- 
tiated a general  from  a special  reve- 
lation, though  with  variance  due  to 
their  respective  argumentation,  em- 
phasis, or  terminology,  Hirsch  estab- 
lished his  nationalistic  theology  on 
the  grounds  of  a twofold  revelation. 
On  the  objective  side  the  distin- 
guishing feature  of  his  contribution 
was  to  have  related  the  general  rev- 
elation to  the  natural-historical  real- 
ity and  identified  the  God  of  the  rev- 
elation with  the  Lord  of  history,  and 

kiiiipfungspunht’  als  Problem  der  Theologie. 
7LL,  10,  1932,  6,  pp.  505-524;  R.  Bultmann. 
Ankniipfung  und  Widerspruch  (1946)  in:  Glau- 
ben  und  Verstehen,  Tubingen,  1952,  pp.  117- 
132;  F.  Gogarten.  Glaube  und  Wirklichheit. 
ZZ,  6,  1928,  pp.  177-197;  Das  Problem  einer 
theologischen  Anthropologie.  ZZ,  7,  1929,  pp. 

?°  H.  Bavinck.  Gereformeerde  Dogmatiel{. 
Kampen,  1895-1901,  Vol.  1,  p.  31 1;  Paul 
Althaus.  Ur-Offenbarung.  Luthertum  46, 
1935,  pp.  4-24;  Naturliche  Theologie  und 
Christusglaube.  Z.  f.  sys.  Th.  18, 1941,  pp.  134- 
149;  E.  Brunner.  Natur  und  Gnade.  Tubin- 
gen, 1934;  F.  Gogarten.  Die  Lehre  von  den 
zwei  Reichen  und  das  ‘naturliche  Gesetz.’  Dt. 
Th.  1935,  p.  336. 



on  the  subjective  side  to  have  as- 
cribed the  seat  and  principle  of  the 
knowability  of  God  to  consciousness. 
This,  for  instance,  shows  an  instruc- 
tive variation  with  Brunner.  While 
Hirsch  cleared  the  way  for  a natural, 
ethical  knowledge  of  God,  Brunner 
in  this  respect  following  Calvin’s  In- 
stitution contended  that  the  special 
revelation  was  the  ratio  cognoscendi 
of  the  general  revelation.  In  his  esti- 
mation this  should  preclude  any  nat- 
ural knowledge  of  God. 

6.  Theological  anthropology.  The 
ethical  ontology  of  man  outlined  in 
Creation  and  Sin  and  the  prominent 
theological  anthropology  Brunner 
propounded  in  his  1937  Man  in  Con- 
tradiction resulted  in  an  amazing 
convergence.  In  both  treatises  we  are 
dealing  with  a double  ontology;  on 
the  one  hand  a general  or  philosoph- 
ical anthropology  consisting  of  an 
ontology  of  either  man  in  his  natu- 
ral-historical setting  (Hirsch)  or 
“real  man”  (, wirl^licher  Mensch — 
Brunner),  and  on  the  other  hand  a 
merely  sketched  ontology  of  the  re- 
deemed or  “true  man”  ( wahrer 
Mensch — Brunner).7'  As  the  former 
ontology  is  universal,  the  latter  is 
particular.  Hence  both  theologians 
understood  that  general  anthropol- 
ogy had  the  useful  advantage  of 
either  providing  the  ground  for  an 
adaptation  to  a given  socio-political 
environment  or  facilitating  the  dia- 
logue with  the  unbeliever.  As  Hirsch 
and  Brunner  rightly  noticed,  general 
anthropology  was  the  prerequisite 
for  any  missionary  theologizing. 

7.  Ordinances  of  creation.  Unlike 
Barth,  who  rejected  from  the  begin- 

71  E.  Brunner.  Der  Mensch  im  Widerspruch. 
Tubingen,  1937,  pp.  71-104,  499-518. 

ning  the  very  notion  of  ordinance  of 
creation,72  but  like  Gogarten,  Alt- 
haus,  and  Brunner,  Hirsch  focused 
his  ethics  on  the  ordinances  of  crea- 
tion. At  the  time  of  the  ethical  quest 
of  the  1 930s  they  became  basic  theo- 
logoumena  for  many  theologians. 
And  what  is  noteworthy  is  precisely 
that  Hirsch,  Gogarten,  Althaus,  and 
Brunner  made  of  them  a quite  dif- 
ferent use  which  resulted  in  substan- 
tially different  kinds  of  theology  of 

After  Gogarten  had  laid  all  possi- 
ble emphasis  on  the  paradoxical  fea- 
ture of  the  relation  of  humanity  to 
God  in  his  1921  Religious  Decision, 
and  thereafter  opposed  antithetically 
faith  to  culture  on  the  assumption  of 
a radical  hamartiology  in  Illusion, 
dated  1926,  he  altered  his  view  while 
reconsidering  the  relatedness  of  faith 
to  creation  in  the  light  of  the  dialec- 
tic of  law  and  Gospel  in  Faith  and 
Reality  from  1928.  In  the  late  1920s 
Gogarten  had  shifted  under  political 
considerations  from  an  “I-Thou"  di- 
alectical opposition  between  God 
and  humanity  to  an  “I-Thou"  rela- 
tionship within  the  framework  of  a 
theology  of  creation.  The  year  1932 
witnessed  the  publication  of  his  Po- 
litical Ethics  which  crystallized  his 
new  theological  vindication  of  the 
State.  Gogarten  evinced  a twofold 
moral  obligation,  the  usus  politicus 
legis  and  the  usus  elenchticus  legis, 
both  of  which  he  then  ascribed  to  the 
authoritarian  State.  More  concerned 
over  the  ordinance  of  State  than  over 
the  notion  of  people  and  folkdom 
( Vol\stum ),  he  assimilated  civil  law 
to  biblical  law  and  described  the 

72  K.  Barth.  Nein!  Antwort  an  Emil  Brun- 
ner. Th.  Ex.  H.,  14,  Munich,  1934,  pp.  20-21. 



State  as  the  preserver  of  the  intersub- 
jective,  personalist  relationship  on 

Everyone  remembers  that  Alt- 
haus,  one  of  the  leading  German  Lu- 
ther scholars,  was  one  of  those  who 
welcomed  the  outset  of  1933  as  the 
historical  turn  to  German  national 
rebirth.  Some  years  later  he  lost  a 
great  deal  of  his  enthusiasm.  Antici- 
pated by  a 1927  pamphlet  Gospel  and 
life  which  accounted  for  the  subser- 
viency of  folkdom  to  the  will  of  God 
instituted  in  creation,  Althaus’  spe- 
cific third  way  came  first  to  light 
with  the  ever  since  famous  1933  Ger- 
man Hour  of  the  Church  and  was  im- 
plemented a year  later  in  Theology  of 
Ordinances . Albeit  Althaus  purposed 
to  eschew  equally  the  overriding  em- 
phasis on  folkdom  (Stapel)  or  State 
(Gogarten)  and  the  Barthian  undue 
adiaphora,  and  therefore  adum- 
brated a personal  and  social  ethics  on 
the  orthodox  protestant  notion  of  vo- 
catio  generalist 4 he  still  showed  a 
striking  analogy  with  Hirsch  in  his 
definition  of  the  ordinance  of  people 
as  community  of  soil,  blood,  and  des- 
tiny. The  crux  of  the  Theology  of  Or- 
dinances was  to  provide  a new  ver- 
sion of  the  doctrine  of  the  Two 
Realms.  Althaus  contended  that 
God  rules  his  creation  by  means  of 
two  regiments,  one  to  eternal  life, 
the  other  to  earthly  and  transient  ex- 
istence. As  the  former  (Dei  opus  pro- 
pnum ) consists  of  the  Nachfolge 
Christi  and  is  therefore  exclusively 
related  to  the  Gospel,  the  latter  (Dei 

73  F.  Gogarten.  Politische  Ethi\.  Jena,  1932; 
Die  Selbstverstandlichkeiten  unserer  Zeit  und 
der  christliche  Glaube.  Berlin,  1932,  p.  22. 

74  P.  Althaus.  Die  deutsche  Stunde  der 
Kirche.  Gottingen,  1933,  p.  9. 

opus alienum)  is  additionally  depend- 
ent on  the  ordinances,  such  as  sexual 
polarity,  monogamy,  people,  race, 
law,  State,  politics,  and  economy,  by 
which  means  God’s  creation  is  con- 
tinued. For  Althaus,  the  crucial 
point  was  actually  that  “the  right 
and  the  left  hand  of  God”  were  nei- 
ther identical  nor  divorced  but  re- 
lated to  one  another  in  the  service  of 
his  unique  creating  and  saving  will.75 
A last  point  upon  which  Althaus 
stressed  repeatedly  was  the  christo- 
logical  interpretation  of  the  divine 
ordinances  of  creation. 

As  for  Brunner,  it  was  his  avowed 
aim  in  The  Divine  Imperative  from 
1932  and  justice  and  Social  Order 
from  1934  to  offer  an  alternative  to 
the  Neo-Lutheran  and  extreme  na- 
tionalist ethics  as  well  as  to  Barth’s 
“unrealistic  and  unworldly”  ap- 
proach.76 Therefore  he  coupled  the 
commandment  of  love  with  the  or- 
dinances of  creation  and  natural  law, 
and  established  all  moral  values,  nat- 
ural and  civil  law,  and  life  itself  on 
the  universally  knowable  will  of 
God.77  In  spite  of  the  fact  that  he 
strove  to  mediate  the  two  founda- 
tional principles  he  ascribed  to 
Christian  ethics,  namely  justice  as 
criterion  and  purpose  of  social  ethics 
and  love  as  criterion  and  purpose  of 
personal  ethics,  his  ethical  teaching 
retained  an  unresolved  dualism 
which  recalled  ironically  the  duality 

74  P.  Althaus.  Theologie  der  Ordnungen. 
Giitersloh,  1934,  pp.  gf(.,  i6ff.,  23f'f.,  53ff.,  65- 

76  E.  Brunner.  Das  Gebot  und  die  Oidnun- 
gen.  Tubingen,  1932,  pp.  594,  596;  Gerechtig- 
heit.  Zurich,  1943. 

77  E.  Brunner.  Dogmatih-  Vol.  3,  Zurich, 
i960,  pp.  344,  363. 


of  the  doctrine  of  the  Two  Realms 
he  invalidated  in  other  respects. 

What  brings  together  and  di- 
vorces from  each  other  Hirsch,  Go- 
garten,  Althaus,  and  Brunner? 
Their  use  of  the  notion  of  ordinance 
of  creation,  of  the  dialectic  of  law 
and  Gospel,  and  their  general  dualist 
conception  of  ethics  closely  approach 
each  other.  Yet  the  distinction  Brun- 
ner drew  between  the  ordinances  ot 
creation  (marriage,  family)  and  the 
ordinances  of  preservation  (all 
others)  distinctively  divorces  him 
from  Hirsch,  Gogarten,  and  Alt- 
haus.78 For  Gogarten  the  ordinances 
are  sinless,  for  Hirsch  and  Althaus 
they  all  originate  from  creation  and 
sin,  while  for  Brunner  all  the  ordi- 
nances of  preservation  resulted  from 
sin.  What  singles  out  Gogarten  is 
undoubtedly  his  unmatched  concen- 
tration on  the  ordinance  of  State  on 
the  one  hand,  and  his  theorizing  on 
the  intersubjective  relationship  in- 
stead ot  using  the  common  biologi- 
cal argument  on  the  other  hand.  It  is 
a significant  degree  of  emphasis  on 
the  primacy  of  the  ordinance  which 
causes  the  major  discrepancy  be- 
tween Hirsch  and  Gogarten  on  one 
side,  and  Althaus  and  Brunner  on 
the  other.  In  their  own  tashion  Alt- 
haus and  Brunner  detected  the  total- 
itarian threat  and  consequently  ad- 
umbrated a safe,  uneasy  “via 
media.”  Against  the  amalgamation 
of  German  ethos  with  divine  law, 
and  the  deification  ol  the  State, 
Brunner  insisted  on  the  vital  priority 

78  The  ordinances  of  creation  such  as  mar- 
riage and  family  are  supralapsarian — not  af- 
fected by  sin,  whereas  the  ordinances  of  pres- 
ervation are  all  infralapsarian — an  aftermath 
of  sin. 


of  democracy,  justice,  and  equality. 
Thus  he  took  an  unambiguous 
stance  against  totalitarianism  ema- 
nating both  from  the  Right  and  from 
the  Left.  As  for  Althaus,  he  at- 
tempted to  follow  the  narrow  path 
between  all  extremes,  clericalism 
and  secularism,  capitalism  and  so- 
cialism, elitism  and  democracy,  and 
social-chaos  and  idolatry  of  the  State. 
Neither  Hirsch  nor  Gogarten  were 
actually  minded  to  do  so.  The  alter- 
native to  Hirsch’s  blind  nationalism 
that  Althaus  and  Brunner  provided 
was  a moderate  conservative  pattern 
of  society.79 

What  can  be  said  in  conclusion  of 
the  theology  of  nationalism  Hirsch 
completed  in  the  period  between  the 
World  Wars?  It  is  a fair  statement  to 
say  that  he  composed  a new  kind  of 
theology  of  mediation.  Only  the 
partner  of  the  conciliation  was  dif- 
ferent. It  was  no  more  merely  philos- 
ophy or  culture,  but  a given  political 
option,  an  arbitrary  ideology.  Indeed 
it  meant  the  setting  up  of  a frame- 
work on  some  specific  doctrines, 
namely  a doctrine  of  creation  and 
sin,  a theology  of  ordinances,  a gen- 
eral, ethical  doctrine  of  man,  and  a 
philosophy  of  history.  This  was 
made  possible  by  the  implement  of 

79  E.  Brunner.  Gerechtigheit,  pp.  i02ff., 
147,  151,  24off.,  312,  313  note  6;  Die 
Uebernationale,  in:  Neue  Schweizer  Rund- 
schau 1934,  9;  Kirche  und  Staat,  in:  Kirche 
und  Welt,  Vol.  3,  1935,  pp.  10-15;  Die  Kirche, 
die  Gruppenbewegung  und  die  Kirche  Jesu 
Christi,  Berlin,  1936;  Der  Staat  und  das  chris- 
tliche  Freiheitsverstandnis,  in:  Kirche  und 
Welt,  Vol.  7,  1937,  pp.  37-59.  Paul  Althaus. 
Totaler  Staat.  Luthertum  45,  1934;  Politisches 
Christentum.  Theologia  Militans,  5,  Leipzig, 
1935 \ Kirche,  Vo H{  und  Staat,  in:  Kirche,  Volk 
u.  Staat,  Berlin,  1937,  pp.  16-35. 


1 ?6 

the  dialectic  of  law  and  Gospel,  ism  is  tempted  to  conclude  that  all  it 
which  balanced  the  whole  structure,  is  about  is  finally  little  else  than  a 
Anyone  who  becomes  familiar  theological  vindication  of  a political 
with  Hirsch’s  theology  of  national-  passion:  a Patriae  ancilla  theologia. 

David  A.  Weadon  is  the  C.  F.  Seabroo/{ 
Director  of  Music  and  Organist  at  Prince- 
ton Theological  Seminary,  where  he 
teaches  hymnology  and  church  music.  He  is 
also  University  Organist  at  Princeton  Uni- 
versity. Mr.  Weadon  holds  both  the  B.Mus. 
and  M.Mus.  from  Westminster  Choir  Col- 
lege in  Princeton,  and  is  presently  a Ph.D. 
candidate  in  the  Liturgical  Studies  pro- 
gram at  Drew  University. 

Christians,  during  the  past  two  decades,  have  lived  in  the  midst  of  a ren- 
aissance of  hymnody.  New  texts  and  tunes  have  been  created  in  great 
quantity  due  to  changing  theologies,  interests,  and  emphases  of  the  church. 
Older  historic  texts  have  been  uncovered  and  brought  into  use  as  well.  New 
hymnals  have  been  or  are  in  the  process  of  being  produced  by  every  major 
denomination  in  England,  Canada,  and  the  United  States.  Rejoice  In  The 
Lord,  one  of  the  newest  of  these  hymnals,  reflects  the  recent  renaissance  and 
research.  The  hymnal  was  produced  by  the  Reformed  Church  in  America, 
but  its  use  will  be  widespread  among  churches  in  the  reformed  tradition,  as 
was  the  case  with  the  Pilgrim  Hymnal  produced  by  the  Congregational  de- 
nomination in  the  1950s. 

The  General  Synod  of  the  Reformed  Church  in  America  at  its  meeting  in 
1980  appointed  a committee,  chaired  by  Howard  G.  Hageman  (then  presi- 
dent of  New  Brunswick  Seminary),  to  begin  work  on  a new  hymnal  for  the 
denomination.  The  committee  was  comprised  of  five  ministers  and  two  mu- 
sicians from  the  denomination  as  well  as  Dr.  Hageman.  The  editor  was  the 
late  Erik  Routley  (then  professor  of  church  music  at  Westminster  Choir  Col- 
lege, Princeton,  NJ).  In  1983  the  Synod  approved  the  work  of  the  committee 
and  the  book  was  published  two  years  later. 

Thirty  years  ago  the  Reformed  Church  in  America  was  a partner  in  a co- 
operative hymnal  project  with  four  other  denominations:  the  Associate  Re- 
formed Presbyterian  Church;  the  Presbyterian  Church  in  the  United  States; 
the  United  Presbyterian  Church  in  North  America;  and  the  Presbyterian 
Church  in  the  United  States  of  America.  In  1955,  this  hymnal  sought  to 
gather  the  traditions  and  peculiarities  of  these  five  denominations  into  one 
book,  edited  by  the  late  David  Hugh  lones  (then  professor  of  church  music 
at  Princeton  Seminary). 

The  Church,  having  now  survived  the  tumultuous  1960s,  continues  to 
proclaim  the  gospel  of  Christ,  but  not  without  change.  We  live  in  what  has 
been  called  “A  Second  Reformation” — the  period  of  ecumenism  which  has 
followed  since  Vatican  II.  This  period  has  witnessed  more  frequent  celebra- 
tions of  the  Lord’s  Supper  in  the  reformed  tradition,  a questioning  of  the 
validity  of  using  exclusively  archaic  language  (in  biblical  translation,  liturgy, 

Review  Article: 
Rejoice  in  the  Lord1 

by  David  A.  Weadon 

1 Rejoice  in  the  Lord , Erik  Routley,  ed.  (Grand  Rapids,  MI:  Wm.  B.  Eerdmans  Publishing 
Co.,  1985). 


and  hymnody),  and  the  ever  increasing  issue  of  equality  for  women,  with 
implications  tor  the  exclusively  masculine  language  we  use,  both  about  hu- 
mankind and  about  God.  Moreover,  Christians  are  concerned  today  in  a new 
and  more  urgent  way  about  “social  gospel"  matters  such  as  world  peace, 
world  hunger,  and  ecology.  Also,  we  live  in  a renaissance  of  text  and  tune 
writing  in  classical  hymnody  which  is  evidenced  by  the  new  texts  of  Dr. 
Routley,  F.  Pratt  Green,  Fred  Kaan,  Timothy  Dudley  Smith,  Brian  Wren, 
Ruth  Duck,  F.  Blanch  fucker,  and  Marie  Post,  as  well  as  the  new  tunes  by 
such  composers  as  Dr.  Routley,  Herbert  Howells,  Christopher  Dearnley, 
Richard  Dirksen,  Austin  Lovelace,  Peter  Cutts,  and  Daniel  Moe,  to  name 
but  a few.  Taking  into  consideration  all  of  these  issues,  the  committee  set 
themselves  to  produce  Rejoice  In  The  Lord , addressing  most  of  these  con- 
cerns, but  leaving  some  for  the  insights  of  future  generations. 

Rejoice  In  The  Lord  is  subtitled  A Hymn  Companion  to  the  Scriptures.  In  the 
preface,  the  committee  states:  “We  have  sought  to  create  a hymnal  that  is 
biblical  in  design,  reformed  in  its  theological  orientation,  and  catholic  in  its 
scope."  That  is  exactly  what  has  been  accomplished.  The  hymnal  is  set  up  in 
a topical  fashion.  It  begins  where  the  Bible  begins,  with  God’s  act  of  creation, 
and  ends  where  the  Bible  ends,  with  the  great  vision  of  God’s  eternal  city. 

In  a recent  address,  Robert  H.  Mitchell,  of  American  Baptist  Seminary, 
declared,  “The  hymnal  can  be  as  important  as  the  Bible  for  devotional  read- 
ing, prayer,  and  understanding  doctrine.  The  Scripture  does  not  tell  us  any- 
thing about  what  the  church  has  done  in  the  last  two  thousand  years,  the  only 
place  we  can  find  this  is  in  the  hymn  book."  Fortunately,  Rejoice  In  The  Lord 
is  arranged  and  set  forth  in  such  a way  that  Mitchell’s  hope  for  the  use  of  a 
hymnal  is  a possibility  and  could  even  become  a reality. 

The  book  is  “catholic  in  scope”  because  it  includes  some  texts  and  tunes 
from  all  periods.  Some  will  be  surprised  to  find  three  hymns  by  Fanny 
Crosby  (sometimes  not  with  the  familiar  tune)  or  “Just  as  I Am”  (#467  and 
#468).  For  musical  reasons,  some  would  not  expect  Ms.  Knapp’s  familiar 
tune  to  “Blessed  Assurance”  (#453)  or  the  Swedish  folk  melody  O Store  Gud 
(#466)  but  all  of  this  is  to  be  expected  if  one  reads  the  preface,  where  the 
committee  states:  “We  have  tried  to  avoid  any  exclusive  use  of  one  musical 
style  or  one  theological  period,  attempting  rather  to  provide  as  wide  a range 
of  hymnological  material  as  possible  within  the  confines  of  a single  book." 

In  addition  to  being  well  conceived  and  designed,  this  hymnal  contains 
ample  indices.  This  first  is  a superb  topical  index  which  includes  not  only  an 
outline  of  topics  in  systematic  theology  but  also  the  seasons  of  the  Christian 
year  found  under  the  heading  of  Jesus  Christ.  A concern  must  be  stated  here, 
because  hymns  of  certain  liturgical  seasons  are  not  found  listed  under  the 
appropriate  heading.  Some  famous  second  coming  Advent  texts,  such  as 
#605  “Lo!  He  Comes”  and  #606  “Sleepers,  Wake!”  are  listed  under  Com- 
ing in  Glory.  A famous  Epiphany  hymn  not  listed  under  the  Epiphany  head- 
ing is  #463  “Christ,  Whose  Glory  Fills  the  Skies,”  found  instead  under  The 
Christian  as  Disciple.  This  presents  the  same  problem  as  the  1955  Hymnboo\ 
for  those  who  are  not  well  versed  in  liturgical  theology:  How  does  one  learn 
about  the  appropriateness  of  these  great  hymns  to  the  Christian  year  as  well 



as  to  the  categories  in  which  they  have  been  listed?  A most  helpful  addition 
in  this  area  is  the  unusual  classification  entitled  Biblical  Characters,  which 
lists  hymns  that  refer  to  many  of  the  persons  in  the  Bible. 

Following  the  topical  index  is  an  index  of  scriptural  allusions,  then  the 
normal  indices  pertaining  to  the  sources  for  the  texts  and  tunes.  An  unusual 
index  of  harmonizations  and  arrangements  by  the  editor,  prepared  especially 
for  this  book,  comes  next,  followed  by  an  alphabetical  index  of  tune  names 
and  a metrical  index  of  tunes.  The  final  two  indices  should  have  been  re- 
versed for  the  convenience  of  the  minister  and  musician.  The  index  of  first 
lines  (the  way  most  people  find  a hymn)  should  be  the  last  index  in  any  hym- 
nal. The  five  pages  of  permissions  could  have  been  placed  anywhere  else. 

There  are  no  “Amens”  at  the  ends  of  the  hymns.  A further  discourse  on 
this  subject  may  be  found  in  an  article  by  Erik  Routley,  “Amens  and  Chris- 
tian Hymnody”  ( Reformed  Liturgy  and  Music  [Winter  1979]  pp.  19-23).  The 
only  exception  to  this  rule  is  where  the  music  was  composed  so  as  not  to  come 
to  completion  until  after  the  Amen.  For  example,  Percy  Buck’s  tune  Gonfa- 
lon Royal  (#286)  reaches  the  tonic  chord  only  at  the  end  of  an  extended 

Other  special  features  of  this  hymnal  include  the  listing  of  biblical  refer- 
ences at  the  bottom  of  each  hymn,  notes  by  the  editor  on  the  ways  in  which 
some  hymns  might  be  sung,  and  many  descants  for  final  stanzas  printed  im- 
mediately above  the  congregation’s  part.  Another  helpful  feature  is  that 
many  hymns  are  in  lower  keys  than  in  previous  hymnals.  There  is  also  an 
Order  of  Service  which  embraces  the  reformed  tradition  and  the  current 
ecumenical  liturgical  movement.  And  there  are  psalms  to  be  read  respon- 
sively; the  psalm  translation  is  from  Massey  Shepherd’s  Liturgical  Psalter , 
with  a few  minor  alterations  by  the  committee. 

Following  this  brief  introduction,  let  us  move  to  specific  topics  and  ques- 
tions regarding  what  was  changed  and  how,  as  well  as  what  was  included  or 
deleted  and  why.  These  are  but  a few  observations;  careful  study  and  con- 
stant use  will  surely  provide  the  reader  with  more. 

Hymn  Texts 

“Altering  a hymn  text  is  like  changing  the  face  on  da  Vinci’s  Mona 
Lisa” — that’s  a phrase  some  musicians  and  clergy  love  to  throw  around  these 
days.  But  before  anyone  gets  too  sacrosanct  about  texts  being  altered,  let  us 
remember  all  of  the  alterations  Wesley  made  to  Watts’  hymns,  the  incredible 
changes  made  by  the  editors  of  Hymns  Ancient  and  Modern  (1861)  in  many 
texts,  and  the  alteration  of  the  refrain  in  “For  the  Beauty  of  the  Earth"  for 
an  early  twentieth-century  edition  of  the  Pilgrim  Hymnal  in  America  (#5  in 

Original:  “ Christ  our  God  to  thee  we  raise 

This  our  sacrifice  of  praise.” 

Changed  to:  “ Lord  of  all,  to  thee  we  raise 

This  our  hymn  of  grateful  praise.” 

Obviously  F.  S.  Pierpoint,  who  was  a high  Anglican  clergyman,  was  writing 



a communion  hymn  about  the  sacrifice  of  Christ,  reenacted  in  the  Eucharist. 
This  would  not  do  for  early  twentieth-century  protestants  in  America;  hence 
the  theological  change.  I contend  that  the  change  to  more  inclusive  language 
is  also  a theological  matter.  The  point  is  not  whether  a text  is  changed  but 
rather  how  it  is  changed  and  by  whom — hopefully  by  a hymnal  committee 
with  a poet  involved  in  the  process! 

Changing  Archaic  Language 

There  was  no  “butcher  shop"  approach  of  total  deletion  in  this  category. 
Many  times  archaic  language,  which  is  a period  piece  of  poetry  and  a testi- 
mony to  churches'  existence  in  other  ages,  was  retained.  Here  are  a few  ex- 
amples which  could  prove  poetically  inferior  if  changed  to  “will”  or  “you.” 

#233  “Jesus  shall  reign  where’er  the  sun” 

#183  “Come,  Mom  long-expected  Jesus” 

#578  “ Ye  holy  angels  bright ...  as  in  his  sight  with  sweet  delight  ye  do 


Most  of  the  changes  in  archaic  language  were  made  where  the  committee  felt 
the  meaning  of  the  word  was  not  understood  by  modern  congregants,  for 

#141  “If  thou  but  suffer  God  to  guide  thee” 
was  changed  to: 

“If  thou  but  trust  in  God  to  guide  thee” 

#6  (Stanza  3)  “deep  writ  upon  the  human  heart” 
was  changed  to: 

“deep  written  on  the  human  heart” 

For  some  German  hymns  the  committee  chose  to  use  many  of  the  new 
translations,  in  modern  English,  from  the  Lutheran  Boo/{  of  Worship  (1978). 
Others,  such  as  #536,  “Deck  Thyself,  My  Soul,  with  Gladness,”  were  re- 
tained in  their  nineteenth-century  translations. 

Inclusive  Language 

The  task  of  changing  human  language  has  been  well  done.  The  commit- 
tee has,  as  have  most  new  hymnal  committees  ( Lutheran  Book^  of  Worship , 
1978,  and  The  Hymnal , 1982,  Episcopal),  not  followed  the  path  of  total  dele- 
tion but  rather  weighed  each  case  individually.  They  have  dealt  with  poetic 
rhyme  schemes,  where  in  many  cases  several  lines  must  be  rewritten  in  order 
to  retain  the  original  rhyme  pattern. 

At  times  one  must  be  aware  of  textual  changes  in  order  to  find  a hymn 
title  in  the  index,  even  when  not  for  inclusive  reasons.  The  text  we  know  as 
“The  God  of  Abraham  Praise”  in  the  1955  Hymnbool{  (#89)  is  the  same  here 
except  for  the  opening  line  which  is  from  another  translation  (#6),  “Praise 
to  the  Living  God”!  But  to  add  to  the  confusion,  another  text  by  Thomas 
Olivers  (1770)  is  included  called  “The  God  of  Abra’m  Praise,”  #595!!! 



Listed  below  are  more  examples  of  textual  changes  made  for  inclusivity, 
the  first  being  one  of  the  editor’s  changes  to  his  own  text  written  in  1966: 

#485  “All  Who  Love  and  Serve  Your  City”  (Stanza  4) 


“drawing  near  to  men  who  spurn  him” 

Some  people’s  solution  in  the  1970s: 

“drawing  near  to  those  who  spurn  him” 

The  author’s  own  1980s  change: 

“drawing  near  a world  that  spurns  him” 

#494  “God  of  All  Ages,  Whose  Almighty  Hand” 


“God  of  Our  Fathers , Whose  Almighty  Hand” 

Some  people’s  solution  in  the  1970s: 

“God  of  Our  Parents,  Whose  Almighty  Hand” 

RJL  solution  in  the  1980s: 

“God  of  All  Ages,  Whose  Almighty  Hand” 

The  following  are  examples  of  having  to  rewrite  several  lines  in  order  to 

keep  the  same  rhyme  scheme  in  all  stanzas: 

#67  “Be  Thou  My  Vision”  (Stanza  2) 


“Be  thou  my  wisdom,  and  thou  my  true  word;*  (A) 

I ever  with  thee  and  thou  with  me.  Lord;*  (A) 

Thou  my  great  Father,  I thy  true  son ; (B) 

Thou  in  me  dwelling,  and  I with  thee  one."  (B) 

(*  Called  an  “eye  rhyme,”  word  looks  like  Lord.) 

Last  two  lines  changed  to: 

“Thou  my  great  Father,  thy  child  let  me  be\  (B) 

Thou  in  me  dwelling,  and  I one  with  thee."  (B) 

Other  altered  texts  include: 

#218  “Good  Christian  Men,  Rejoice” 
changed  to: 

“Good  Christian  Friends,  Rejoice” 

#231  “Songs  of  Thankfulness  and  Praise”  (Stanza  1) 

“God  in  man  made  manifest” 
changed  to: 

“ word  in  flesh  made  manifest"  (Stanzas  2-4  altered  also) 

#336  “At  the  Name  of  Jesus”  (Stanza  5) 

“ Brothers , this  Lord  Jesus” 
changed  to: 

“ Christians , this  Lord  Jesus” 

The  Preface  states,  however,  that  in  a few  cases  (lour  or  five)  the  change 
has  not  been  made  and  they  have  used  a “dagger”  before  the  stanza  to  indi- 
cate this.  Two  such  examples  are  in  the  use  of  the  word  “he”  in  #159, 
“Sometimes  a Light  Surprises,”  and  the  sociable  song  #209,  “God  Rest  You 



Merry,  Gentlemen.”  One  may  also  notice  in  #230,  “Brightest  and  Best  of  the 
Sons  of  the  Morning”  as  being  unaltered  and  without  a dagger.  This  is  ex- 
plained by  the  fact  that  the  star  is  here  being  called  “a  son  of  the  morning.” 
Some  other  phrases,  which  may  be  controversial  in  some  circles,  have  been 
retained,  such  as  stanza  4 of  #4,  “All  Creatures  of  Our  God  and  King,” 
where  the  phrase  “Dear  mother  earth”  appears.  Also  the  reference  to 
“watchmen”  and  the  church  as  feminine,  being  the  “bride  of  Christ.”  For 
“watchmen”  there  is  no  other  word  that  works  except  “watcher,”  which  is  a 
poor  substitute.  In  some  cases  hymns  were  omitted  due  to  this  problem.  You 
will  not  find  “Once  to  Every  Man  and  Nation,”  “O  Brother  Man,  Fold  to 
Thy  Heart  Thy  Brother,”  “Dear  Lord  and  Father  of  Mankind,”  or  “Rise 
Up,  O Men  of  God"  in  this  book.  This  omission  of  some  favorites  is  another 
difficult  part  of  the  task  which  has  been  set  before  many  hymnal  committees 
across  the  ages.  The  matter  of  masculine  God  language  was  left  for  another 
generation  to  pursue. 

Restored  Stanzas 

While  many  hymn  texts  (especially  those  of  Wesley  and  Watts)  originally 
contained  more  stanzas  than  one  might  want  to  sing  today,  this  book  restores 
many  stanzas  which  had  been  used  across  the  ages.  Only  recently  have 
Americans  decided  that  a good  hymn  contains  four  stanzas  or  less!  A few  of 
the  many  possible  examples  follow  as  compared  with  The  Hymnbool { (1955): 
#184  O Come,  O Come,  Emmanuel  (Stanzas  2,  3,  4 and  5) 

#223  The  First  Nowell  (Stanza  6) 

#254  Immortal  Love,  Forever  Full  (Stanzas  2 and  6) 

#362  O for  a Thousand  Tongues  to  Sing  (Stanzas  3,  4,  and  5) 

Whose  Texts  Are  Included? 

Many  times  the  surprise  is  not  in  what  is  new,  such  as  the  texts  of  F.  Pratt 
Green,  Fred  Kaan,  Brian  Wren,  Erik  Routley,  or  Ruth  Duck,  but  rather  in 
what  has  been  rediscovered;  for  example,  Kitchin  and  Newbolt’s  “Lift  High 
the  Cross”  from  1916.  There  are  texts  from  every  period,  as  has  been  noted 
before,  but  especially  interesting  are  the  following  numbers  of  entries  to  be 
found  under  each  author’s  name  in  the  index: 

Isaac  Watts 
Charles  Wesley 
Christopher  Wordsworth 
Martin  Luther 

RJL,  1985  Hymnbool{,  19 55 

39  20 

29  15 

3 1 

7 2 

The  texts  in  this  book  include  a whole  section  of  metrical  psalms,  all  to- 
gether in  one  place  (#81-143).  This  is  a very  important  liturgical  tool,  since 
many  congregations  are  now  singing  psalms,  both  metrical  and  responsorial, 


with  the  reading  of  the  other  lections.  Some  of  these  psalms  are  newly 
metricized,  others  are  from  the  1650  and  1912  psalters. 

For  anyone  who  has  found  this  discourse  on  texts  too  complicated,  there 
are  also  some  children’s  hymns:  “Wherever  I May  Wander”  (#163);  “Jesus 
Loves  Me”  (#457);  and  those  of  Mrs.  Cecil  F.  Alexander.  Or,  lor  the  more 
profound  theological  mind,  there  is  a text  by  Dietrich  Bonhoeffer:  “By  Gra- 
cious Powers”  (#55). 

As  I have  stated  before  there  are  more  hymns  on  the  sacraments:  five  bap- 
tism texts  and  twenty-nine  communion  texts.  The  communion  hymns  are 
especially  needed  since  more  and  more  congregations  today  sing  hymns  dur- 
ing the  distribution.  An  element  of  “joy”  as  well  as  “remembrance”  can  be 
seen  in  most  of  the  texts — a significant  change  from  the  1955  Hymnboof 

The  Music 

Erik  Routley  frequently  said  that  “a  good  hymn  tune  should  be  able  to  be 
sung  well  after  two  or  three  hearings.”  This  book  in  most  cases  provides  us 
with  fine  examples  of  that  statement  from  every  period.  It  was  fashionable 
in  musical  circles,  twenty  or  so  years  ago,  to  condemn  all  Victorian  tunes. 
Much  of  this  feeling  has  passed  and  here  we  find  the  best  musical  offerings 
of  all  ages — including  a great  deal  of  Lowell  Mason’s  work  (the  Boston  style) 
and  American  folk  melodies.  Routley  gained  a new  appreciation  for  these 
styles  of  Americana  in  the  latter  years  of  his  life. 

Again,  at  times,  we  find  the  editor  working  in  the  context  of  a committee 
and  including  such  tunes  as  Hymn  to  Joy , taken  from  Beethoven,  and  other 
musical  giants’  melodies,  such  as  Haydn,  Bortniansky,  Schumann,  and  so  on. 
Dr.  Routley  used  to  tell  his  hymnology  classes  that  “stealing  a melody  from 
a great  composer  did  not  make  that  melody  a good  hymn  tune,”  after  which 
he  would  list  examples  such  as  those  noted  above.  Included  in  this  hymn- 
book  are  spirituals  such  as  “Go,  Tell  It  on  the  Mountain”  (#224),  “There  Is 
a Balm  in  Gilead”  (#465),  and  “Let  Us  Break  Bread  Together”  (#545),  as 
well  as  ethnic  music  from  third  world  countries,  such  as  “Happy  Are  They 
Who  Walk”  (#82)  and  “Sheep  Fast  Asleep”  (#211).  Many  more  German 
chorales  have  been  included  here,  usually  harmonized  by  Bach,  but  none  of 
the  Renaissance  rhythms  as  found  in  the  Lutheran  Boo\  of  Worship  (1978)  are 
included  here.  There  is  no  twentieth  century  “youth  group  music”  to  be 
found  and,  therefore,  no  guitar  chords! 

I estimate  that  over  two-thirds  of  the  tunes  might  be  unfamiliar  to  most 
congregations,  but  many  of  the  newly  composed  ones  are  easy  to  sing  after 
only  one  hearing: 


Tune  Name 




Earl  V.  Copes  (1964) 

157,  500 


Herbert  Howells  (1930,  1977) 



John  Wilson  (1969) 



Erik  Routley  (1969) 


The  same  is  true  of  many  of  the  rediscover!  tunes: 


T une  Name 


392,  599 

Westminster  Abbey 

Henry  Purcell 


Down  Ampney 

Ralph  Vaughan  Williams 


Boundless  Mercy 

American  Folk 



American  Folk 



Sidney  Nicholson 


Laudate  Dominum 

C.H.H.  Parry 

But  alas,  some  tunes  rediscovered  and  some  tunes  newly  composed  here 
would  be  rather  difficult  for  many  congregations.  However,  they  are  still 


Tune  Name 


54 1 

Dieu,  nous  avons  vu  ta  gloire 

Jean  Langlais 


East  Achlam 

Francis  Jackson 


Tallis’  Third  Tune 

Thomas  Tallis 



S.  S.  Wesley 



S.  S.  Wesley 

Among  the  one-third  familiar  hymn  tunes  and  texts  one  finds  “O  God 
Our  Help,”  “Immortal,  Invisible,”  “Come,  Ye  Thankful  People,  Come,” 
“This  Is  My  Father’s  World,”  “A  Mighty  Fortress,”  and  “Now  Thank  We 
All  Our  God,”  to  name  but  a few.  Several  hymns  which  some  musicians  and 
ministers  might  have  preferred  not  to  find  here  would  include: 

#155  “Great  Is  Thy  Faithfulness” 

#161  “He  Leadeth  Me” 

#453  “Blessed  Assurance” 

#468  “Just  as  I Am”  (which  has  alternate  tune  at  #467) 

#456  “Amazing  Grace” 

#507  “What  a Friend  We  Have  in  Jesus” 

Among  the  duties  of  any  hymnal  editor  is  to  choose  what  tunes  should  go 
with  what  texts.  A surprising  example  is  “Watchman,  Tell  Us  of  the  Night" 
which  was  changed  from  the  1955  Hymnbool{  setting  of  St.  George’s,  Windsor 
to  a Lowell  Mason  tune,  Watchman , in  RJL.  Many  people  would  wonder 
why  the  Welsh  tune  Aberystwyth  was  not  chosen?  The  editor  did  all  musi- 
cians a wonderful  favor  by  finding  new  or  rediscovered  tunes  for  some  be- 
loved texts  and  leaving  out  the  bad  tunes  for: 




#459,  460 

“Take  My  Life,  And  Let  it  Be” 

“In  the  Hour  of  Trial” 

“Immortal  Love,  Forever  Full” 

“Rock  of  Ages” 

“My  Hope  Is  Built  on  Nothing  Less”  (actually  two  choices 
other  than  the  traditional  tune) 


Still  other  tunes  congregations  love  are  used  with  new  texts  instead  of  the 
familiar  ones: 

Tune  Old  Text  New  Text 

#20  Bunessan  “Morning  Has  Broken”  “Praise  and  Thanksgiving” 

#466  O Store  Gud  “How  Great  Thou  Art”  “O  Mighty  God” 

There  are,  moreover,  many  hymns  which  receive  two  tunes  in  this  book. 
Here  the  editor  does  not  stand  on  ceremony;  usually  he  presents  first  the  tune 
which  is  best,  and  not  necessarily  the  most  familiar: 

#193, 194 

“O  Little  Town  of  Bethlehem” 

Forest  Green 
St.  Louis 

#190,  191 

“Of  the  Father’s  Love  Begotten” 

Divinum  Mysterium 

“Of  the  Father’s  Heart  Begotten" 

Divinum  Mysterium 

(two  texts,  two  meters,  interchangea- 


#214,  215 

“Away  in  a Manger” 


Away  in  a Manger 

#258, 259 

“Jesus  Calls  Us” 



#266,  267 

“The  King  of  Love  My  Shepherd  Is” 

Dominus  Regit  Me 
St.  Columba 

#276, 277 

“Come,  My  Way” 

Come,  My  Way 
The  Call 

#292,  293 

“When  I Survey  the  Wondrous  Cross” 



#294, 295 

“Nature  with  Open  Volume  Stands” 




“Beneath  the  Cross  of  Jesus” 

St.  Christopher 

#3j6,  3j7 

“Come,  Ye  Faithful,  Raise  the  Strain” 

Ave  Virgo 

#407,  408 

“Blest  Be  the  Tie  That  Binds” 



#342,  343 

“O  Love,  How  Deep,  How  Broad, 

Deo  Gracias  (Agin- 

How  High” 

court  Song) 

Deus  Tuorum  Mili- 

#362,  363 

“O  for  a Thousand  Tongues  to  Sing” 




“And  Can  It  Be  That  I Should  Gain” 

Jena  (Das  Neuge- 

borne  Kindelein) 

I am  glad  to  see  included  here  some  texts  and  tunes  which  other  denom- 



inations  have  known  for  years.  A hymnal  is  the  most  ecumenical  book  to  be 
found,  with  contributions  from  all  times,  theological  perspectives,  and  parts 
of  the  world.  Therefore,  it  seems  that  the  inclusion  of  these  hymns  alone 
should  make  this  hymnal  very  attractive.  Perhaps  these  examples  will  make 
up  for  any  other  hymns  one  may  not  have  been  ecstatic  about: 


“Forth  in  Thy  Name,  O Lord,  I Go” 

Angels’  Song 


“O  Praise  Ye  the  Lord” 

Laudate  Dominum 


“On  Jordan’s  Bank  the  Baptist’s  Cry” 
“Once  in  Royal  David’s  City” 

Winchester  New 




“Lo,  How  a Rose  E’er  Blooming” 

Es  1st  Ein’  Ros’ 


“From  Heaven  High  I Come  to  Earth” 

Vom  Himmel  Hoch 


“Songs  of  Thankfulness  and  Praise” 



“My  Song  Is  Love  Unknown” 

Love  Unknown 


“Alleluia!  Sing  to  Jesus” 



“Sing,  My  Tongue,  How  Glorious  Battle” 



“I  Bind  unto  Myself  Today” 
“Ye  Holy  Angels  Bright” 

St.  Patrick 


Da  r wall 

All  reservations  aside,  this  is  the  most  exciting  collection  of  hymn  texts 
and  tunes  one  could  possibly  find.  In  the  July  1963  issue  of  Theology  Today, 
Dr.  William  Scheide  lamented  the  pitiful  musical  plight  of  congregational 
song  in  American  protestantism.  His  provocative  article,  “What  Should  a 
Congregation  Sing?”  (pp.  212-41),  along  with  a rejoinder  by  Dr.  Donald 
Macleod  in  the  same  issue  of  Theology  Today,  called  for  better  texts  and  tunes. 
Dr.  Macleod  also  called  for  a “cleaning-up"  of  liturgical  theology  in  Protes- 
tant circles  at  the  close  of  his  article  entitled,  “Minister  of  Music?  " (pp.  277- 
78).  How  intriguing  it  is  that  over  twenty  years  later,  most  of  what  they 
called  for  has  come  to  fruition,  partially  by  the  ecumenical  movement  and 
partially  in  this  new  hymnal,  Rejoice  In  The  Lord.  It  is  no  surprise,  then,  that 
one  finds  a letter  by  Erik  Routley  entitled  “Musicians  and  Ministers"  (pp. 
274-76)  in  this  same  issue  of  Theology  Today,  sandwiched  between  the 
thoughts  of  a musician  on  the  one  hand  and  a minister  on  the  other.  Erik 
Routley  was  both , and  here  in  Rejoice  In  The  Lord  he  works  from  both  per- 
spectives. We  are  provided  with  hymnody  for  all  God’s  people — something 
for  the  sophisticated  and  something  for  the  not-so-sophisticated.  For  surely 
as  Christians,  despite  all  our  divisions  and  diversities,  “we  are  one  in  the 
spirit  and  one  in  the  Lord.”  SOLI  DEO  GLORIA ! 


Wansbrough,  Henry,  ed.  The  New  Je- 
rusalem Bible.  Garden  City,  NY:  Dou- 
bleday and  Company,  Inc.  Pp.  xvi  + 
2108  + 7 maps.  $24.95. 

The  Jerusalem  Bible  had  its  beginning  in 
1948  when  a group  of  French  Dominicans 
and  others  at  the  Ecole  Biblique  de  Jeru- 
salem produced  a series  of  commentaries, 
each  containing  one  or  more  books  of  the  Bi- 
ble translated  into  French,  with  introduc- 
tions of  various  lengths  and  with  copious 
notes.  In  1956,  two  years  after  the  completion 
of  the  series  of  forty-three  fascicles,  a one- 
volume  edition  was  issued,  in  which  the 
notes  were  greatly  compressed  and  the  intro- 
ductions much  abbreviated.  This  compen- 
dious edition,  entitled  La  Sainte  Bible  traduite 
en  franqais  sous  la  direction  de  I'Ecole  Biblique 
de  Jerusalem , contains,  therefore,  the  quin- 
tessence of  a very  great  deal  of  solid  and  re- 
sponsible scholarship  contributed  by  a score 
or  more  of  collaborators.  In  1966  an  English 
translation  was  prepared  under  the  direction 
of  Father  Alexander  Jones  of  Christ’s  Col- 
lege, Liverpool;  this  soon  became  widely 
used  in  Britain  and  America. 

Meanwhile,  scholarly  work  continued  un- 
abated at  Ecole  Biblique  in  Jerusalem,  and  in 
1973  a second  edition  of  the  Bible  de  Jerusa- 
lem was  published,  incorporating  progress  in 
scholarship  over  the  decades  since  the  prep- 
aration of  the  first  edition.  Introductions  and 
notes  were  changed — sometimes  consider- 
ably— to  take  account  of  linguistic,  archaeo- 
logical, and  theological  advances,  and  the 
text  itself  reflected  new  understanding  of  the 
originals.  This  French  edition  was  important 
enough  to  warrant  a completely  new  edition 
of  the  English-language  Jerusalem  Bible,  this 
time  undertaken  by  Father  Henry  Wans- 
brough, a monk  at  Ampleforth  Abbey  in 
Yorkshire,  with  the  collaboration  of  other 
scholars.  In  both  editions,  as  would  of  course 
be  expected,  the  deutero-canonical  books, 
called  the  Apocrypha  by  Protestants,  are  in- 
terlarded within  the  Hebrew  canon  in  accord 
with  their  position  in  the  Greek  Septuagint 
and  the  Latin  Vulgate. 

So  much  by  way  of  describing  the  back- 
ground and  format  of  the  New  Jerusalem  Bi- 

ble; something  will  be  said  now  concerning 
the  scholarship  reflected  in  both  translation 
and  comments.  It  should  be  mentioned  at  the 
outset  that  during  the  past  generation  the 
differences  between  the  results  of  Protestant 
and  Roman  Catholic  biblical  scholarship 
have  been  reduced  almost  to  the  vanishing 
point,  and  a very  great  expanse  of  common 
ground  now  exists  in  matters  pertaining  to 
discussions  of  date,  authorship,  literary 
composition,  and  the  like.  Thus,  according  to 
both  editions  of  the  Jerusalem  Bible  the  Pen- 
tateuch is  acknowledged  to  be  made  up 
of  the  J E D P sources;  the  book  of  Isaiah 
embodies  material  deriving  from  the 
eighth-century  prophet  of  that  name  but  is 
supplemented  by  the  addition  of  at  least  two 
subsequent  sections,  portions  of  which  are 
post-exilic  in  date;  the  book  of  Daniel  was 
written  between  167  and  164  b.c.;  the  book  of 
Jonah,  written  long  after  the  destruction  of 
Nineveh,  is  not  to  be  interpreted  as  history; 
the  Synoptic  Gospels  show  literary  depend- 
ence and  the  use  of  the  Q source;  the  Pastoral 
Letters  as  well  as  Ephesians  may  have  been 
written  by  disciples  of  Paul  who  had  been 
given  an  unprecedented  amount  of  freedom 
by  the  Apostle  in  the  composition  of  these 
letters.  One  notices  that  in  the  earlier  edition 
the  Johannine  authorship  of  the  Fourth  Gos- 
pel is  said  to  be  “confirmed  by  the  Gospel  it- 
self,” but  in  the  new  edition  tbe  reader  is  told 
that  the  matter  is  not  so  simple,  and  that  at 
most  the  apostle  was  responsible  for  drawing 
up  a “primitive  gospel,  much  simpler  than 
the  present  one,”  which  later  was  “amplified 
and  developed  in  several  stages  during  the 
second  half  of  the  first  century.” 

As  for  the  character  of  the  English  trans- 
lation, a number  of  overall  changes  have 
been  introduced  into  the  new  edition.  For 
one  thing,  according  to  the  Foreword,  “ac- 
curacy of  translation  has  been  a prime  con- 
sideration,” and  consequently  “paraphrase 
has  been  avoided  more  rigorously  than  in  the 
first  edition.”  At  the  same  time,  “care  has 
been  taken  to  reproduce  the  dignity  of  the 
originals  by  a certain  measured  phrasing  and 
avoidance  of  the  colloquial."  It  is  especially  to 
be  noted  that,  in  many  places  involving  ref- 
erence to  men  and  women,  inclusive  lan- 
guage has  been  adopted,  in  order  “to  soften 

1 88 


or  avoid  the  inbuilt  preference  of  the  English 
language,  a preference  now  found  so  offen- 
sive by  some  people,  for  the  masculine.” 

As  for  individual  items,  it  will  be  noticed 
that  the  decision  was  made  to  continue  to 
represent  the  divine  name  by  Yahweh,  de- 
spite some  initial  hesitation  felt  at  an  earlier 
stage.  Isaiah  7:14,  previously  rendered,  “The 
maiden  is  with  child  and  will  soon  give  birth 
to  a son,”  now  reads,  “The  young  woman  is 
with  child  and  will  give  birth  to  a son.”  In 
both  editions  the  following  comment  is  at- 
tached: “The  Greek  version  reads  ‘the  vir- 
gin,’ being  more  explicit  than  the  Hebr. 
which  uses  almah , meaning  either  a young 
girl  or  a young,  recently  married  woman.”  In 
the  Annunciation  (Luke  1:28)  the  words  of 
the  angel  Gabriel  to  Mary  are  rendered  in  the 
earlier  edition,  “Rejoice,  so  highly  favored! 
The  Lord  is  with  you,”  with  the  added  com- 
ment: “The  translation  ‘Rejoice’  may  be  pre- 
ferred to  ‘Hail’  and  regarded  as  containing  a 
messianic  reference,  cf.  Zc  9:9,  ‘so  highly  fa- 
vored,’ i.e.,  as  to  become  the  mother  of  the 
Messiah.”  In  the  New  Jerusalem  Bible  this 
remains  nearly  the  same,  “Rejoice,  you  who 
enjoy  God’s  favour!  The  Lord  is  with  you,” 
and  the  comment  likewise  remains  essen- 
tially the  same. 

Among  instances  where  the  translators 
have  rejected  a paraphrastic  rendering  of  the 
first  edition  one  notices  that  I Cor.  7:1-2  no 
longer  reads,  “Now  for  the  questions  about 
which  you  wrote.  Yes,  it  is  a good  thing  for  a 
man  not  to  touch  a woman;  (2)  but  since  sex 
is  always  a danger,  let  each  man  have  his  own 
wife  and  each  woman  her  own  husband.” 
Verse  2 is  now  correctly  rendered,  “yet  to 
avoid  immorality  every  man  should  have  his 
own  wife  and  every  woman  her  own  hus- 

Since  the  manuscripts  of  the  Bible  differ  in 
various  passages  from  one  another,  transla- 
tors of  the  Scriptures  must  make  choices  be- 
tween variant  readings.  In  the  textual  criti- 
cism of  the  New  Testament,  the  New 
Jerusalem  Bible  usually  reflects  current  judg- 
ments widely  held  among  most  Protestant 
and  Roman  Catholic  scholars.  Thus,  the  end- 
ing of  Mark’s  Gospel  (16:9-20),  which  is 
lacking  in  the  earliest  witnesses,  is  character- 
ized as  non-Markan,  and  the  pencope  adul- 
terae  (John  7:53-8:12)  is  recognized  to  be  no 
original  part  of  the  Fourth  Gospel,  for  “it  is 
omitted  by  the  oldest  witnesses  [MSS,  ver- 
sions, Fathers]  and  found  elsewhere  in 

others;  moreover  its  style  is  that  of  the  Syn- 
optics and  the  author  was  possibly  Luke. 
Nevertheless,  the  passage  was  accepted  in  the 
canon  and  there  are  no  grounds  for  regard- 
ing it  as  unhistorical."  In  the  earlier  edition 
the  comment  on  John  5:3^4  states  that  “the 
best  witnesses  omit  ‘waiting  for  the  water  to 
move’  and  the  whole  of  v.  4.”  In  the  new  edi- 
tion the  passage  is  removed  from  the  text  and 
placed  in  a footnote.  In  John  1:13  the  earlier 
edition  unwarrantably  abandoned  the  evi- 
dence of  all  Greek  manuscripts  and,  on  the 
basis  of  several  Old  Latin  and  Syriac  manu- 
scripts, with  limited  patristic  support, 
adopted  the  singular  number,  “who  was 
born,”  thus  making  the  Fourth  Gospel  testify 
to  the  Virgin  Birth  of  Christ.  The  New  Je- 
rusalem Bible  now,  with  much  more  justifi- 
cation, follows  the  Greek  text  and  reads, 
“who  were  born,”  referring  to  believers. 

Finally,  several  examples  may  be  given  of 
avoidance  of  masculine-oriented  language 
pertaining  to  people.  The  opening  of  the  first 
Psalm  is  no  longer,  “Happy  the  man  who 
never  follows  the  advice  of  the  wicked,”  but 
now  more  properly  reads,  "How  blessed  is 
anyone  who  rejects  the  advice  of  the 
wicked.”  And  at  verse  3,  instead  of,  “He  is 
like  a tree  that  is  planted  by  water  streams,” 
we  now  read,  “Such  a one  is  like  a tree 
planted  near  streams."  In  Matt.  4:19  the  tra- 
ditional rendering  of  Jesus’  words  to  the  sons 
of  Zebedee,  “I  will  make  you  fishers  of  men,” 
is  appropriately  rendered,  “I  will  make  you 
fishers  of  people.”  The  opening  sentence  of 
the  “Hymn  of  Love”  in  I Corinthians  13  is 
changed  from,  “If  I have  all  the  eloquence  of 
men  or  of  angels  but  speak  without  love,”  to 
“Though  I command  languages  both  human 
and  angelic.  . . .” 

On  the  other  hand,  efforts  to  eliminate 
masculine-oriented  language  are  not  carried 
to  such  limits  as  would  result  in  contrived 
English,  and  all  expressions  imbedded  in  his- 
torical situations  of  antiquity  are,  naturally, 
retained.  Furthermore,  nowhere  (it  need 
scarcely  be  mentioned)  does  the  New  Jeru- 
salem Bible  introduce  such  atrocities  as  “our 
Father-Mother  God”  (used  in  the  Inclusive 
Language  Lectionary),  and  everywhere  Jesus 
Christ  continues  to  be  identified  as  Son  of 
God — not  Child  of  God. 

In  conclusion,  the  publication  of  The  New 
Jerusalem  Bible  is  to  be  welcomed  in  making 
available  in  English  the  scholarship  of  the 
celebrated  Ecole  Biblique  which,  since  its 


foundation  in  1890  by  Pere  M.-J.  Lagrange, 
has  been  noted  for  its  solid  contributions  to 
biblical  research.  All  who  wish  to  be  brought 
au  courant  with  a representative  segment  of 
contemporary  Roman  Catholic  biblical  stud- 
ies should  secure  a copy  of  this  edition  of  the 

Bruce  M.  Metzger 
Princeton  Theological  Seminary 

Habel,  Norman  C.  The  B00J  of  Job. 
Old  Testament  Library.  Philadelphia: 
Westminster  Press,  1985.  Pp.  586. 

Janzen,  J.  Gerald.  Job.  Interpretation. 
Atlanta:  John  Knox  Press,  1985.  Pp.  viii 
+ 273.  $18.95. 

These  two  recent  commentaries  on  the 
book  of  fob  part  company  with  received 
scholarly  wisdom  in  remarkably  parallel 
fashion.  Both  works  are  heavily  influenced 
by  the  renewed  interest  in  the  literary  study 
of  the  text,  and  both  are  especially  dependent 
on  the  literary  insights  ot  R.  Alter  in  his 
work  The  Art  of  Biblical  Narrative.  Both  treat 
the  received  book  of  (ob  as  a literary  unity, 
and  both  argue  persuasively  for  taking  the 
prose  framework,  both  speeches  of  Yahweh, 
the  wisdom  poem  in  chapter  28,  and  the 
speeches  of  Elihu  as  an  integral  part  of  the 
poet’s  original  work.  Janzen  goes  even  fur- 
ther and  argues  for  keeping  the  third  cycle  of 
speeches  as  it  stands,  but  on  this  point  Habel 
is  willing  to  admit  that  the  text  is  in  some  dis- 

Habel’s  commentary  is  a much  fuller  com- 
mentary of  the  standard  critical  variety. 
After  a long  introduction,  the  commentary 
treats  each  pericope  using  the  following  for- 
mat: 1.  first  the  passage  is  given  in  Habel’s 
own  translation,  a translation  purposely  con- 
servative in  an  attempt  to  capture  the  nu- 
ances and  verbal  allusions  of  the  original;  2. 
this  is  followed  by  extensive  notes  to  the  text 
and  translation;  3.  then  there  is  a section  en- 
titled, “Design,”  in  which  Habel  outlines  the 
pericope,  discusses  its  literary  structure,  and 
points  out  the  literary  and  thematic  links  be- 
tween it  and  other  parts  of  the  book;  and,  fi- 
nally, 4.  Habel  gives  his  exposition  of  the  pas- 
sage in  a section  entitled,  “Message  in 
Context.”  Habel’s  commentary  is  very  thor- 
ough and,  in  general,  quite  solid.  He  is  espe- 


dally  good  at  pointing  out  the  ironic  ele- 
ments in  the  book  and  clarifying  the  way  in 
which  one  speech  responds  to  the  earlier 
speeches.  This  is  a major  contribution  to  the 
critical  study  of  Job,  and  this  virtue  alone 
would  make  the  commentary  worth  its  price. 

Of  course,  in  a commentary  this  size  on  a 
book  as  difficult  as  Job,  there  are  bound  to  be 
numerous  points  where  one  will  disagree 
with  a commentator.  This  is  not  the  place  to 
comment  on  the  interpretation  of  individual 
words,  but  some  points  of  difficulty  should 
be  mentioned.  In  his  discussion  of  Job’s  oath 
of  innocence  in  (ob  31,  Habel  misunder- 
stands the  syntax  of  the  incomplete  oath  for- 
mula. He  correctly  notes  that  four  of  the  long 
string  of  “if”  (Jim)  clauses  in  chapter  31  are 
formal  oaths  completed  by  the  self-impreca- 
tion in  the  apodosis  according  to  the  pattern, 
“If  I have  done  X . . . , then  may  Y happen  to 
me.”  But  then  he  describes  the  remaining  'im 
clauses  as  questions  assuming  a negative  an- 
swer, which  is  just  wrong.  Janzen’s  comment 
on  this  issue  is  far  more  accurate,  “Often  the 
oath  in  practice  omits  the  self-imprecating 
part.  . . .”  One  is  simply  dealing  with  an  in- 
complete oath  formula.  The  self-imprecating 
apodosis  could  be  omitted  because  it  was 
such  a standard  part  of  the  form  that  every- 
one knew  it  came  next  and  would  supply  it 
mentally  even  if  it  were  not  spoken. 

In  his  treatment  of  Job  26:7-8,  Habel  says 
that  “the  'north’  (sapon)  is  a common  desig- 
nation for  the  abode  of  the  gods  in  northwest 
Semitic,”  but  sapon  designates  the  abode  of 
the  gods,  not  as  a word  meaning  “north,”  but 
as  a proper  name  for  a particular  divine 
mountain.  There  is  little  if  any  evidence  that 
“north”  as  a directional  term  carried  any 
mythological  freight  in  northwest  Semitic. 
This  is  a minor  point,  but  one  hates  to  see 
misinformation  perpetuated  by  its  inclusion 
in  what  will  undoubtedly  become  a standard 
reference  work. 

A more  ma)or  point  concerns  Habel’s 
treatment  ot  Job  28.  He  makes  a good  case 
for  attributing  this  poem  to  the  joban  poet, 
but  when  he  goes  on  to  argue  that  vs.  28  is 
also  by  the  poet  but  in  direct  counterpoint  to 
the  preceding  poem,  that  “the  poet  thereby 
emphasizes  once  again  that  the  traditional 
orthodox  answer,  while  it  may  need  to  be 
said  as  a formal  statement,  is  not  acceptable 
to  lob,”  Habel  appears  to  be  straining.  Jan- 
zen’s treatment  ot  this  chapter,  while  fasci- 
nating in  its  use  of  insights  drawn  from 

i go 


Whiteheadian  philosophy,  also  seems 
problematic.  In  both  cases,  one  senses  that 
the  desire  to  maintain  the  literary  unity  of 
the  received  text  has  been  followed  to  the 
point  that  it  threatens  to  weaken  the  credi- 
bility of  the  whole  argument. 

In  contrast  to  Habel’s  work,  Janzen’s  com- 
mentary is  not  a standard  critical  commen- 
tary. It  has  a good  introduction,  but  there  is 
no  translation  of  the  biblical  text  and  very 
few  textual  notes,  and  his  treatment  of  indi- 
vidual passages  is  expositional,  following  the 
general  format  of  the  Interpretation  series, 
rather  than  verse  by  verse  exegesis.  Occasion- 
ally, when  Janzen’s  translation  of  the  text 
dif  fers  considerably  from  that  of  other  schol- 
ars, or  when  a disputed  point  hangs  on  the 
precise  translation  of  the  text,  )anzen  will 
give  his  rendering  and  the  basis  for  it,  but 
this  does  not  happen  as  often  as  one  might 

The  real  strength  of  Janzen’s  commentary 
is  his  fresh  theological  insight.  On  the  surface 
some  of  Janzen’s  conclusions  sound  very  con- 
servative, even  precritical,  but,  in  fact,  he  has 
come  to  them  after  working  through  the 
critical  issues,  and,  as  a result,  his  argument 
is  fresh,  lively,  and  extremely  stimulating. 
Janzen,  for  instance,  rejects  the  so-called 
modern  consensus  which  denies  that  19:26 
envisions  a resurrection  from  death.  He 
points  out  that  the  book  does  not  reflect  a 
iogic  in  which  “one  possibility  after  another 
is  raised,  exploded,  and  left  irrecoverably  in 
the  wake  of  a linear  inquiry  whose  only  truth 
lies  at  the  very  end  of  the  process.’’  In  fact, 
“again  and  again  views  which  at  one  point 
seem  to  have  been  irrecoverably  negated  are 
rehabilitated  within  enlarged  or  transformed 
perspectives.”  Given  this  feature  in  the  logic 
of  the  book,  “there  is  no  reason  why  he  [Job] 
cannot  return  in  chapter  19  to  an  envisage- 
ment  of  resurrection  earlier  entertained  but 
meanwhile  abandoned.” 

Janzen  is  equally  creative  in  his  discussion 
of  the  “patience”  of  Job.  Modern  critics  are 
fond  of  contrasting  the  patient  Job  of  the 
prose  framework  with  the  impatient  Job  of 
the  poem,  but  Janzen  persuasively  argues 
that  the  Job  of  the  poem  is  patient  in  precisely 
the  same  sense  that  James  and  other  New 
Testament  passages  call  upon  us  to  be  pa- 
tient. His  comments  are  worth  quoting  in 

In  James  5 the  analogues  to  “patient 
Job”  are  identified  as  (a)  laborers  who  cry 
out  to  God  for  redress  (James  5:4);  (b) 
farmers  who,  having  planted,  now  must 
wait  for  rain  (5:7);  and  (c)  the  prophets 
whose  suffering  patience  (as  exemplified 
by  Jeremiah  and  Habakkuk)  is  no  mere 
serene  quietism  but  a strenuous  wrestling 
with  one’s  doubts  and  with  God.  These 
three  analogues  to  Job  portray  persons  en- 
acting a refusal  to  give  up  on  God  in  spite 
of  all  evidence  to  the  contrary.  . . . If  James 
concludes  such  a gallery  of  heroes  with  Job 
(5:11),  surely  it  is  because  James  was  not 
looking  solely  at  the  figure  of  the  prologue 
and  the  epilogue!  Rather,  it  is  because  pre- 
cisely in  Job’s  turbulent  and  energetic  re- 
fusal to  give  up,  James  saw  a generic  re- 
semblance to  the  oppressed  laborer  . . . , 
the  anxious  farmer  . . . , and  the  right- 
eously indignant  prophet.  . . . 

Both  commentators  take  the  speeches  of 
Yahweh  seriously  as  the  poet’s  attempt  to 
bring  some  resolution  to  the  problems  he  has 
raised  earlier  in  the  book,  and  both  reject  the 
modern,  cynical  readings  of  the  book  which 
make  God  into  a buffoon  or  have  Job  ironi- 
cally declare  his  independence  from  God. 
Though  their  interpretations  of  the  divine 
speeches  are  distinctive,  they  both  argue  that 
the  word  spoken  by  God  in  these  speeches 
moves  Job  to  new  insights  and  thus  to  a res- 
olution of  his  inner  conflict.  In  this  respect, 
both  commentators  follow  the  recent  tend- 
ency already  found  in  the  works  of  Othmar 
Keel,  Jahwes  Entgegnung  an  Ijob,  and  Vero- 
nika Kubina,  Die  Gottesreden  im  Buche  Hiob. 

There  were  already  a number  of  excellent 
commentaries  on  the  book  of  Job — Marvin 
Pope’s  in  the  Anchor  Bible  and  Robert  Gor- 
dis’s  The  Boo/{  of  job , to  mention  just  two  of 
the  most  outstanding — but  the  acute  literary 
observations  and  the  fresh  theological  in- 
sights of  these  new  commentaries  by  Habel 
and  Janzen  make  them  must  reading  for  the 
serious  student  of  the  book  of  Job.  They 
should  be  in  every  pastor’s  library. 

J.J.M.  Roberts 

Princeton  Theological  Seminary 


Joseph  Blenkinsopp.  A History  of 
Prophecy  in  Israel.  Philadelphia:  West- 
minster Press,  1983.  Pp.  287.  $16.95. 

In  this  significant  monograph,  Joseph 
Blenkinsopp  traces  the  history  of  Israelite 
prophecy  from  the  Settlement — indeed, 
touching  on  (Ephraimitic)  traditions  that 
trace  the  origin  of  prophecy  to  the  pre-settle- 
ment period — to  the  Second  Common- 
wealth. The  author  modestly  states  that  his 
purpose  is  to  “take  stock”  and  “regain  per- 
spective on  the  phenomenon  of  prophecy  as  a 
whole”  (p.  13).  Despite  the  enormous 

amount  of  primary  and  secondary  material, 
he  does  a splendid  job  of  synthesizing  and 
analyzing  the  issues.  This  is  not,  however,  a 
dry  summary  of  modern  scholarship.  Rather, 
it  is  both  an  incisive  and  insightful  study  of  a 
difficult  but  important  topic. 

The  book  is  organized  into  six  chapters 
with  subsections,  each  of  which  is  preceded 
by  a helpful  and  up-to-date  bibliography.  In 
his  first  chapter,  Blenkinsopp  examines  the 
place  of  the  Prophets  in  the  canon. and  in 
modern  critical  scholarship,  especially  in 
the  light  of  recent  sociological  insights. 
Throughout  the  book,  he  cautions  against  an 
overly  sharp  distinction  between  “classical” 
and  “primitive"  prophecy.  Rather,  he  notes 
that  there  are  “lines  of  continuity”  with  the 
prophetic  tradition  of  which  the  writing 
prophets  were  aware,  however  ambiguous 
that  tradition  may  be.  He  observes  that  the 
tendency  among  modern  scholars  to  make 
this  rigid  distinction  generally  goes  hand  in 
hand  with  a negative  evaluation  of  ecstatic 
prophecy,  and  it  reflects  a protestant  bias  that 
emphasizes  the  authority  of  the  word,  rather 
than  the  manifestation  of  the  spirit.  The  dif- 
ference between  the  pre-classical  and  the 
classical  periods,  rather,  lies  in  “the  change  in 
literary  form”  from  stories  about  prophets  to 
collections  of  sayings  of  prophets  (p.  87). 
Nevertheless,  Blenkinsopp  acknowledges 
that  there  is  a noticeable  shift  in  the  eighth 
century,  a shift  which,  he  argues  in  a rather 
circular  manner,  took  place  because  of  the 
importance  “attributed  to  what  the  prophet 
actually  said  rather  than  what  kind  of  person 
he  was  or  what  he  did.”  He  asserts  that  the 
prophets  beginning  with  Amos  directed 
their  message  “to  the  entire  people  rather 
than  to  an  individual.”  The  truth  of  this  as- 
sertion is,  of  course,  difficult  to  demonstrate, 


since  we  do  not  have  writings  of  the  pre-clas- 
sical prophets,  only  stories  about  them. 

After  his  general  introduction,  which  in- 
cludes a helpful  survey  of  prophecy  through- 
out the  ancient  Near  East,  he  examines  the 
connection  of  the  early  prophets  with  war- 
fare, the  cult,  and  the  monarchy.  In  the  bulk 
of  the  book,  he  takes  the  reader  through  the 
prophetic  writings  from  various  periods,  in 
each  case  discussing  the  socio-political  mi- 
lieu, the  complex  editorial  history,  and  the 
place  of  the  prophet(s)  within  the  stream  of 
tradition.  He  points  out  that  editorial  activi- 
ties are  interpretive  and  they  reflect  the 
changing  needs  of  particular  communities  of 
faith  as  they  face  new  sociopolitical  situa- 
tions. Blenkinsopp’s  emphasis  on  the  conti- 
nuity of  prophetic  traditions  is  most  helpful, 
although  he  is  sometimes  too  quick  to  specify 
individual  prophetic  predecessors.  For  in- 
stance, he  speaks  of  Isaiah’s  debt  to  his  older 
contemporaries,  Hosea  and  Amos  (pp.  112- 
13),  even  though  there  are  other  ways  to  ac- 
count for  the  common  elements  in  their  the- 

The  most  valuable  contribution  of  the 
book  comes  in  the  last  chapter.  Whereas  it  is 
customary  to  bring  the  history  of  prophecy  to 
an  end  with  the  exile,  Blenkinsopp  takes  us 
through  the  post-exilic  period,  examining 
the  transformation  of  prophecy  and  the  rad- 
ical reinterpretation  of  prophecy  in  eschato- 
logical terms.  Here,  Blenkinsopp  argues  that 
“Ezra’s  program  was  accepted  and  enforced 
not  only  by  a minority  group”  (p.  25 1 ),  but  by 
the  group  whose  points  of  view  are  repre- 
sented in  Trito-Isaiah.  He  believes  that  it  was 
precisely  on  the  basis  of  such  prophetic  teach- 
ings that  Ezra  initiated  his  reforms. 

Blenkinsopp  is  generally  cautious  and 
convincing  in  his  presentation,  though  he 
does  oversimplify  or  overstate  his  case  at 
times.  For  instance,  he  refers  to  the  second 
half  of  the  ninth  century  as  a period  of  As- 
syrian decline  during  which  time  “the  Syro- 
Palestinian  states  were  able  to  pursue  their 
own  policies  unmolested”  (p.  81).  This  as- 
sessment ignores  the  reign  of  Adad-Nirari 
III,  whose  harassment  and  weakening  of  the 
Arameans,  menace  of  Israel  in  the  ninth  cen- 
tury, contributed  to  the  rise  of  Israel  and  Ju- 
dah in  the  eighth  century. 

In  another  instance,  to  emphasize  the  mil- 
itary accomplishments  of  the  Assyrians, 
Blenkinsopp  states  that  they  are  “not  noted 
for  their  contribution  to  literature”  and  that 



they  “left  behind  texts  remarkable  for  their 
linguistic  difficulty  and  intellectual  poverty” 
(p.  82).  This  is  an  unfair  estimation  of  a peo- 
ple known  among  historians  of  the  ancient 
Near  East  for  their  plethora  of  inscriptions, 
including  both  historical  and  literary  texts. 
Few  other  cultures  in  the  ancient  Near  East 
can  boast  of  a royal  library  like  that  of  As- 

Despite  such  occasional  overstatements, 
the  book  is  a balanced  treatment  of  the  sub- 
ject. Because  of  its  thoroughness  and  clarity, 
this  book  should  become  a part  of  every  pas- 
tor’s library. 

C.  L.  Seow 

Princeton  Theological  Seminary 

Beckwith,  Roger.  The  Old  Testament 
Canon  of  the  New  Testament  Church  and 
its  Background  in  Early  Judaism.  Grand 
Rapids:  Wm.  B.  Eerdmans  Co.,  1986. 
Pp.  xiii  + 528.  $35.00. 

The  question  of  what  constitutes  the 
canon  of  the  Old  Testament  has  been  a 
source  of  disagreement  among  Christians 
since  the  second  century,  and  even  before 
that  among  Jews  and  Samaritans.  Matters 
came  to  a head  in  the  sixteenth  century  when 
the  Reformers,  following  the  lead  of  Jerome 
of  the  fourth  century,  drew  a sharp  distinc- 
tion between  the  Apocrypha  of  the  Greek 
and  Latin  Bibles  and  the  books  of  the  He- 
brew Bible.  The  Council  of  Trent,  on  the 
other  hand,  in  1546  promulgated  a list  of  in- 
spired Scriptures  that  obliterated  all  distinc- 
tion between  the  books  of  the  Hebrew  Bible 
and  the  Apocrypha,  and  anathematized 
those  who  refused  to  accept  the  Council’s  de- 

The  present  book  by  Roger  Beckwith, 
who  is  warden  of  Latimer  House,  Oxford, 
and  lecturer  in  liturgy,  Wycliffe  Hall,  Ox- 
ford, is  the  most  comprehensive  work  on  the 
subject  of  the  Old  Testament  canon  pub- 
lished during  the  twentieth  century,  in  it 
the  reader  will  find  a thorough  discussion  of 
the  several  different  kinds  of  witnesses  to  the 
canon,  as  well  as  detailed  information  on 
the  rise  of  the  threefold  structure  of  the  He- 
brew canon  (Torah,  Prophets,  Writings)  and 
the  number  of  the  canonical  books  (whether 
numbered  as  twenty-two  or  twenty-four).  In 
considering  the  identity  of  the  canonical 

books,  Beckwith  looks  at  questions  pertain- 
ing to  the  scope  of  the  canon  in  the  several 
Jewish  sects,  and  the  status  of  the  pseude- 
pigrapha.  With  painstaking  research  Beck- 
with examines  in  detail  the  diverse  traditions 
concerning  the  canon  of  the  Ethiopian 
Church,  one  form  of  which,  reflecting  Ara- 
bic usage,  contains  eighty-one  books  in  both 
Old  and  New  Testaments.  (As  regards  Ara- 
bic sources,  however,  one  would  have  been 
glad  for  more  than  the  passing  reference  on 
p.  502  to  the  work  known  as  5 Maccabees — 
an  English  translation  of  which  was  pub- 
lished by  Henry  Cotton  in  1832.) 

The  upshot  of  Beckwith’s  twenty-five 
years  of  research  is  that  the  canon  of  the  He- 
brew Bible  was  fixed  long  before  the  so- 
called  Synod  of  Jamnia  (c.  a.d.  90),  the  date 
hitherto  generally  accepted  as  the  time  when 
the  limits  of  the  third  portion  of  the  canon 
were  determined.  On  the  basis  partly  of  cir- 
cumstantial evidence,  the  author  concludes 
that  the  threefold  division  of  Torah,  Proph- 
ets, and  Writings  derives  from  the  work  of 
Judas  Maccabaeus,  about  164  b.c. 

Although  Beckwith  may  not  be  able  to 
convince  all  readers  of  his  book  that  the  com- 
pleted canon  emerged  so  early  as  the  time  of 
the  Maccabaean  uprising,  a period  marked 
more  by  turmoil  and  distress  rather  than  of- 
fering opportunity  for  reflection  and  schol- 
arly study,  in  any  case  this  lucid  and  erudite 
book  will  remain  a veritable  encyclopedia  of 
information  on  the  subject  of  the  Old  Testa- 
ment canon,  as  well  as  the  point  of  departure 
for  all  future  discussion  concerning  the 
scholarly  issues  it  treats. 

Bruce  M.  Metzger 
Princeton  Theological  Seminary 

Fitzmyer,  Joseph  A.,  S.J.  The  Gospel 
According  to  Luke  X-XXIV:  A New 
Translation  with  Introduction  and  Com- 
mentary. Anchor  Bible  28A.  Garden 
City,  NY:  Doubleday  and  Company, 
Inc.,  1985.  Pp.  841-1642.  $18.00. 

Joseph  A.  Fitzmyer  is  a Jesuit  priest  and 
professor  at  the  Catholic  University  of 
America.  An  expert  in  Semitic  languages, 
the  Qumran  literature,  and  its  relations  to 
the  New  Testament,  Fitzmyer  has  now  writ- 
ten the  best  commentary  available  on  Luke’s 



The  commentary  appears  in  the  Anchor 
Bible  series  and  consists  of  two  volumes.  Vol- 
ume one  was  published  in  1979.  It  contains  a 
lengthy  introduction  which  provides  a gen- 
eral bibliography  on  Luke’s  Gospel,  a discus- 
sion of  the  usual  issues  (the  current  state  of 
Lucan  studies,  authorship,  date,  destination, 
composition,  style,  language,  and  outline), 
and  Fitzmyer’s  own  sketch  of  Luke’s  theol- 
ogy. This  is  followed  by  the  commentary 
proper.  Fitzmyer  divides  the  Gospel  into 
eight  parts:  (1)  the  prologue  (1 : 1-1:4);  (2)  the 
infancy  narrative  (1:5-2:52);  (3)  the  prepara- 
tion tor  the  public  ministry  of  Jesus  (3:1- 
4:13);  (4)  the  Galilean  ministry  of  Jesus  (4: 14- 
9:50);  (5)  the  journey  to  Jerusalem  (9:5 1 - 
19:27);  (6)  the  ministry  of  Jesus  in  Jerusalem 
(19:28-21:38);  (7)  the  passion  narrative  (22:1- 
23:56a);  (8)  the  resurrection  narrative 

(23:563-24:53).  These  parts  are  further  sub- 
divided into  headings  under  which  individ- 
ual passages  are  discussed.  The  first  volume 
carries  the  discussion  through  chapter  9 (the 
beginning  of  the  journey  to  Jerusalem).  The 
second  volume  begins  with  chapter  10  and 
continues  through  to  the  end  of  the  Gospel. 
It  includes  two  indexes  (modern  authors; 

Fitzmyer  begins  the  treatment  of  each 
passage  with  a fresh  translation.  Then  fol- 
lows the  “Comment,”  in  which  the  passage’s 
structure,  theological  preoccupation,  and  es- 
sential message  are  set  out.  This  is  then  fol- 
lowed by  the  “Notes,”  which  treat  problems 
raised  by  textual  criticism,  philological  anal- 
ysis, or  history.  The  discussion  concludes 
with  a bibliography  of  relevant  secondary  lit- 

Fitzmyer’s  commentary  is  far  too  complex 
and  extensive  to  summarize.  Recent  schol- 
arly investigation  of  Luke  10-24  J*as  focused 
on  three  issues:  (1)  the  function  of  the  travel 
narrative  in  the  broader  structure  of  the  Gos- 
pel; (2)  Luke’s  view  of  Jesus'  passion;  (3)  the 
meaning  of  the  resurrection  narrative.  Fitz- 
myer’s positions  on  these  issues  can  be  set  out 
as  follows. 

The  travel  narrative  serves  several  func- 
tions. First,  the  journey  plays  a major  role  in 
Luke’s  geographical  perspective,  identifying 
Jerusalem  as  the  city  of  Jesus’  destiny  (9:51- 
53;  13:22;  17:11).  Second,  it  functions  impor- 
tantly in  Luke's  christology.  Here,  Luke  con- 
cretizes Jesus’  “exodus”  (9:31);  Jesus  heads 
toward  Jerusalem  to  accomplish  a complex 
of  events  (passion,  resurrection,  ascension. 

exaltation)  that  result  in  his  departure  to  the 
Father.  Third,  it  functions  as  a special  device 
for  the  training  of  the  disciples  who  will  in 
Acts  become  Jesus’  witnesses  to  the  “end  of 
the  earth”  (Acts  1:8).  The  travel  account 
therefore  becomes  a collection  of  teachings 
for  the  missionary  church,  in  which  instruc- 
tion of  disciples  alternates  with  debates  with 

In  the  introduction  to  the  commentary 
(pp.  22-23),  Fitzmyer  objects  to  Kasemann’s 
thesis  that  the  Lucan  passion  narrative  sub- 
stitutes a theologia  gloria  for  a theologia  crucis 
and  argues  that  Luke  portrays  a salvific  char- 
acter to  Jesus'  death.  Now,  in  volume  two,  he 
sets  out  five  additional  elements  that  charac- 
terize the  Lucan  form.  First,  Luke  centers 
the  drama  not  in  the  Temple,  but  in  Jerusa- 
lem; thus  making  that  city  and  its  leaders 
pronounce  judgment  on  Jesus.  Second,  Luke 
portrays  the  passion  as  Jesus’  victory  over  Sa- 
tanic evil.  Third,  Luke  emphasizes  the  com- 
passion of  Jesus,  specifically  in  the  Last  Sup- 
per (22:37),  m Jesus’  lament  for  the  daughters 
of  Jerusalem  (23:28),  and  in  his  words  of  for- 
giveness to  the  penitent  criminal  (23:43). 
Fourth,  the  passion  narrative  continues  the 
travel  account  by  beginning  Jesus’  transit  to 
the  Father  (recall  9:51;  17:25;  cf.  24:7,26).  Fi- 
nally, Luke  portrays  Jesus’  death  as  a form  of 
martyrdom,  which  accomplishes  salvation 
for  humanity. 

As  for  the  resurrection  narratives,  Fitz- 
myer maintains  that  Luke’s  omission  of  Gal- 
ilean appearances  relates  to  his  geographical 
perspective — Jerusalem  becomes  the  focal 
point  for  the  rest  of  chapter  24  and  then 
functions  importantly  at  the  beginning  of 
Acts  as  the  place  from  which  missionary  ac- 
tivity proceeds.  Luke’s  use  of  “proof  from 
prophecy”  (24:19^21,  25-27,  44-46)  empha- 
sizes the  continuity  of  Christianity  with  Ju- 
daism, which  prepares  the  reader  for  the  re- 
constitution of  Israel  that  takes  place  in 
Acts.  Finally,  despite  the  “proofs”  that  run 
throughout  the  chapter,  Luke  portrays  a cer- 
tain human  incredulity  and  lack  of  percep- 
tion at  Jesus’  resurrection. 

Three  general  comments  about  the  com- 
mentary can  be  made: 

(1)  Fitzmyer’s  command  of  the  secondary 
literature  is  impressive.  He  exhibits  a keen 
critical  sense  in  interaction  with  this  litera- 
ture and  clearly  states  his  own  positions.  The 
bibliographies  on  individual  passages  are  the 
most  exhaustive  available.  The  translations 



are  excellent.  His  analysis  is  often  aided  by 
his  expertise  in  Semitic  languages  and  the 
Qumran  material. 

(2)  While  Fitzmyer  regularly  comments 
on  the  relation  of  the  Gospel  to  the  historical 
Jesus  (Stage  I ot  the  Gospel  Tradition)  and  to 
the  pre-Gospel  tradition  (Stage  II),  his  pri- 
mary concern  is  to  interpret  the  Gospel  in  its 
final  form  (Stage  III).  He  protests  that  the 
current  study  of  the  Gospel  (e.g.  Conzel- 
mann,  Kasemann)  is  dominated  by  “theses 
about  Lucan  theology” — theses  which  con- 
sider only  part  of  the  evidence,  or  compare 
Luke-Acts  with  the  Pauline  or  Johannine 
writings,  or  are  involved  with  preoccupa- 
tions born  of  later  systematic  theology  (Fitz- 
myer addresses  such  “controverted  theses”  in 
the  introduction,  pp.  3-29).  Fitzmyer  adopts 
instead  a “descriptive  synthetic”  method, 
which  involves  a detailed  analysis  of  the  nar- 
rative in  its  final  form.  He  is,  on  the  whole, 
successful  in  executing  his  method. 

(3)  One  question,  however,  can  be  raised 
about  methodology.  It  concerns  the  function 
of  distinctions  between  tradition  and  redac- 
tion in  determining  the  meaning  of  the  final 
form  of  the  text.  In  the  process  of  conducting 
his  synthetic  analysis  of  Luke’s  narrative, 
Fitzmyer  makes  the  fine  distinctions  be- 
tween tradition  and  redaction  expected  from 
redaction  critics.  He  is  careful  to  note  the  dif- 
ficulty in  determining  such  distinctions,  es- 
pecially in  relation  to  decisions  about  what 
constitutes  Lucan  redaction  and  what  consti- 
tutes Lucan  composition.  Still,  the  “Com- 
ment” sections  on  individual  passages  often 
contain  lengthy  discussions  on  source,  form, 
or  redactional  considerations.  What  is  the 
role,  however,  of  such  redactional  distinc- 
tions in  determining  the  meaning  of  the  final 
form  of  the  text  ? Certainly  the  text  allows  ac- 
cess to  its  pre-history.  But  is  there  not  a sense 
in  which  all  of  Luke’s  Gospel  is  Lucan,  a 
sense  in  which  the  author’s  perspectives  are 
carried  not  only  in  the  “redactional  ele- 
ments,” but  also  through  the  tradition  he 
employs?  Fitzmyer’s  emphasis  on  distinc- 
tions between  tradition  and  redaction  some- 
times obscures  the  dynamic  interrelatedness 
among  the  parts  of  the  Gospel  segregated  by 
redaction  criticism.  In  the  process,  Luke’s 
story — the  sum  of  the  actions  and  comments 
about  actions  which  occur  throughout  the 
time  and  space  of  the  text — can  be  difficult  to 
ascertain.  The  problem  is  somewhat  miti- 
gated by  summary  statements  placed  at  the 

beginning  ol  major  sections  of  the  commen- 
tary, by  contextual  observations  made  in  the 
"Comment”  sections  and  by  Fitzmyer’s  ex- 
cellent synthesis  of  Luke’s  theology  in  the  In- 
troduction (Vol.  1),  to  which  the  commen- 
tary proper  often  refers  (thus,  one  should  not 
read  the  second  volume  without  having  ac- 
cess to  the  first). 

The  second  volume  is  a worthy  successor 
to  the  first.  The  entire  commentary  is  a ma- 
jor achievement — certainly  a primary  re- 
source in  the  years  to  come  for  scholars, 
clergy  and  students  interested  in  Luke’s  Gos- 

Paul  F.  Feiler 

Belmont,  Massachusetts 

Schweizer,  Eduard.  The  Good  News 
According  to  Luke  (trans.  by  David  E. 
Green).  Atlanta:  John  Knox,  1984.  Pp. 
xvi  + 392.  $23.95. 

With  The  Good  News  According  to  Luke 
(German  Das  Evangelium  nach  Lukas  [Got- 
tingen: Vandenhoeck  & Ruprecht,  1982]), 
John  Knox  Press  has  made  available  in  Eng- 
lish the  third  gospel  commentary  by  Eduard 
Schweizer,  professor  of  New  Testament  at 
the  University  of  Zurich  for  three  decades 
until  his  retirement  in  1979  and  now  a pop- 
ular lecturer  on  the  American  scene.  This 
commentary  on  Luke  not  only  has  the  same 
format  and  aims  as  Schweizer’s  earlier  vol- 
umes on  Mark  and  Matthew  (published  by 
John  Knox  in  1970  and  1975,  respectively), 
but  also  presupposes  access  to  them.  Where  a 
pericope  in  Luke  has  parallels  in  Mark  and/ 
or  Matthew,  Schweizer  generally  offers  an 
abbreviated  discussion,  referring  the  reader 
to  the  companion  commentaries. 

An  all  too  brief  introduction  (pp.  1-9) 
touches  upon  such  issues  as  authorship,  set- 
ting, and  sources,  and  provides  a meager  bib- 
liography of  Lukan  studies.  In  his  discussion 
(pp.  10-14)  °f  the  gospel’s  preface  (1:1-4), 
Schweizer  identifies  Luke’s  purpose  as  ker- 
ygmatic  proclamation  through  the  vehicle  of 
historical  narrative.  Luke  differs  from  Mark 
and  Matthew  in  his  concern  to  compete  for 
the  attention  of  “cultured  readers”  and  in  his 
recognition  of  the  problem  of  tradition — i.e., 
the  need  to  establish  the  continuity  between 
today’s  message  and  the  founding  events  of 
the  past.  The  author  aptly  divides  the  balance 
of  the  commentary  into  four  sections:  (1)  In- 



fancy  Narratives  (1:5-2:52;  pp.  15-67);  (2) 
Growth  of  the  Community  (3:1-9:50;  pp.  68- 
164);  (3)  Road  to  ferusalem  (9:51-19:27; 
pp.  165-296);  (4)  Passion  and  Resurrection 
(19:28-24:53;  pp.  297-380).  A concluding  ret- 
rospect (pp.  381-85)  advances  the  thesis  that 
Luke  offers  a christology  via  story  (narra- 

Schweizer  shows  himself  to  be  a sound  ex- 
egete,  independent  and  judicious  in  judg- 
ment. Perhaps  the  greatest  value  of  this  com- 
mentary lies  in  the  author’s  willingness  to 
wrestle  theologically  with  Luke’s  message. 
(For  readers  unfamiliar  with  Schweizer’s 
volumes  on  Mark  and  Matthew,  I point  out 
that  the  author  generally  follows  his  redac- 
tion-critical observations  and  exegetical 
notes  with  a comment  on  the  theological  im- 
port of  the  passage  in  view.)  Concerning 
Luke’s  treatment  of  discipleship  in  relation 
to  use  of  possessions  (the  passage  is  14:25-35), 
Schweizer  writes: 

Love  claims  the  beloved  totally.  . . . 
Whoever  would  be  exposed  to  this  love 
must  consider  what  he  is  getting  into.  In  v. 
33,  Luke  is  thinking  especially  of'  posses- 
sions. The  necessary  equipment  tor  disci- 
pleship consists  in  having  nothing.  That  is 
every  bit  as  essential  as  the  means  tor 
building  a tower  or  waging  a war.  Of 
course  Luke  is  also  aware  that  sometimes 
families  must  be  forsaken  (v.  26),  other 
times  brought  into  the  community  (Acts 
16:33;  1 Cor.  7:12;  Col.  3:18-21);  some- 
times the  cross  must  be  borne  (v.  27),  other 
times  food  and  drink  and  clothing  must 
be  accepted  (12:22-32;  14:1);  sometimes 
everything  must  be  given  up  (v.  33),  other 
times  property  must  be  used  for  oneself 
and  others  (5:29;  7:37 ; 10:38;  22:10-12).  Of 
course  not  all  are  called  in  the  same  way  to 
the  same  form  of  discipleship.  But  it  is 
equally  sure  that  there  is  no  such  thing  as 
a totally  middle-class  discipleship  where 
there  is  only  preservation  ot  one’s  heritage 
and  radical  renunciation  can  never  flower 
(p.  242). 

At  the  appropriate  places  throughout  the 
commentary,  the  author  presents  a coherent 
and  provocative  reading  ol  Luke's  eschatol- 
ogy (expectation  of  the  end-time),  one  ol  the 
hotly  contested  issues  in  Lukan  research. 
The  parable  of  14:15-24  (which  depicts  God’s 
kingdom  as  a banquet)  states  “that  a faithful 
longing  for  God’s  eschaton  is  not  enough  if  it 

forgets  that  the  invitation  must  be  accepted 
here  and  now,  that  the  crucial  question  is  not 
when  the  kingdom  will  come  but  who  will 
share  in  it”  (p.  237).  Of  the  discourse  in 
17:20-37,  Schweizer  observes: 

In  fact,  the  kingdom  of  God  chooses  to  re- 
late to  us  by  coming  into  our  midst. 
Therefore  we  cannot  assign  the  kingdom 
to  its  proper  place  in  the  present  or  in  the 
near  or  distant  future.  The  kingdom 
rather  assigns  us  to  our  proper  place  be- 
cause in  Jesus’  work  it  shapes  the  entire 
present.  Anyone  who  looks  for  signs  of  its 
future  coming  expects  a period  of  time, 
however  short,  to  consider  whether  or  not 
to  accept  it.  In  the  kingdom  of  God,  how- 
ever, tbe  future  is  not  understood  as  being 
separate  from  the  present;  it  already  in- 
cludes the  present.  As  something  that  will 
reach  its  consummation  in  the  future,  it  is 
already  present  . . .”  (p.  276). 

Yet  Schweizer  rightly  concludes  that,  for  all 
Luke’s  emphasis  on  the  decisive  role  of  the 
present,  he  continues  to  expect  the  end  soon. 

The  exegesis  of  15:11-32  (usually  called 
the  “Parable  of  the  Prodigal  Son,”  but 
termed  by  the  author  the  parable  of  “The 
Powerless  Almighty  Father”)  is  especially 

The  parable  is  the  story  of  a father  . . . and 
thus  brings  God  into  living  reality.  Con- 
sidered abstractly,  this  father  is  an  al- 
mighty father.  . . . But  this  almighty  father 
has  no  power  at  all.  He  has  decided  once 
and  for  all  in  favor  of  love  and  knows  that 
if  he  [had  exerted  his  power]  he  would 
have  lost  his  sons  forever. 

Therefore  he  can  only  let  his  younger 
son  depart,  worry  about  him,  and  look  for 
him  daily.  Therefore  it  is  also  impossible 
to  take  a snapshot  of  the  feast,  with  the  fa- 
ther sitting  at  the  head  of  the  table  dis- 
pensing food  and  drink  and  happiness  to 
his  returning  son  and  the  whole  company, 
and  paste  it  in  an  album,  as  though  we  had 
captured  the  image  of  the  all-merciful  and 
almighty  father.  . . . Within  five  minutes, 
in  [esus’  parable,  the  father  is  standing 
outside  in  the  dark,  where  he  could  catch 
pneumonia,  facing  his  elder  son  with  no 
means  but  words  to  express  what  is  in  his 
burning  heart  (p.  250). 

In  this  parable  Schweizer  discerns  the  image 
of  Jesus’  own  ministry  in  the  Gospel  of  Luke: 



Jesus  gives  reality  to  the  kingdom  of  God  by 
loving  to  the  point  of  death — powerless — on 
the  cross. 

The  reader  will  also  derive  special  benefit 
from  the  author’s  discussion  of  such  passages 
as  17:1-10  and  24:13-35  (the  journey  to  Em- 
maus).  On  the  basis  of  24:13-35  and  the  fol- 
lowing passage  (24:36-53),  Schweizer  partic- 
ularly emphasizes  Luke’s  portrayal  of  faith 
as  entirely  gift. 

For  all  its  strengths,  however,  The  Good 
News  According  to  Luke  has  serious  flaws. 
First,  uninfluenced  by  recent  composition- 
critical  approaches  to  Luke-Acts,  the  author 
operates  with  a redaction-critical  method 
that  does  not  take  seriously  enough  the  final 
shape  of  Luke’s  narrative  as  vehicle  of  Luke’s 
literary  and  theological  aims.  For  example, 
with  respect  to  22:3  (where  Satan  enters  Ju- 
das), we  meet  the  assertion:  “Luke  22:3  ...  is 
traditional  . . . and  therefore  hardly  repre- 
sents the  Lukan  perspective  . . .”  (pp.  83-84). 
Study  of  Luke’s  redaction  of  his  sources  re- 
mains a powerful  tool;  nevertheless,  we  ob- 
tain skewed  results  when  we  forget  that 
Luke  entrusted  his  entire  narrative  to  his 
readers.  Both  traditions  preserved  by  Luke 
and  changes  made  to  them  express  his  per- 
spective. Schweizer’s  application  of  the  re- 
daction-critical method  risks  losing  the  forest 
for  the  trees.  It  is  not  surprising,  therefore, 
that  this  commentary  fails  to  elaborate  the 
broader  theological  themes  and  literary  pat- 
terns of  Luke’s  gospel.  The  reader  comes 
away,  instead,  with  a piecemeal  treatment  of 
individual  passages — often  enough  illumi- 
nating, yet  lacking  connective  tissue. 

A second  problem  concerns  Schweizer’s 
practice  of  beginning  each  section  with  a re- 
construction of  the  evolution  of  the  tradition 
(the  composition  history  of  the  passage).  In- 
variably, these  treatments  are  too  short — and 
too  long.  For  the  scholar,  they  have  little 
value  because  conclusions  are  stated  as  asser- 
tions, without  supporting  argument.  For  the 
general  reader,  these  discussions  distract 
from  the  exegetical  commentary  with  which 
they  seldom  seem  to  have  any  obvious  con- 

Third,  while  the  author  clearly  interprets 
Luke  in  conversation  with  other  scholars,  he 
never  identifies  his  conversation  partners. 
The  gain  of  such  a strategy — by  no  means  a 
small  gain — is  that  the  reader  is  confronted 
with  the  author’s  own  reading  of  the  gospel, 
rather  than  with  a mass  of  conflicting  opin- 

ions. But  Schweizer  does  engage  in  polemics, 
and  he  does  correct  the  views  of  other  writ- 
ers, although  he  does  not  name  them.  The 
reader  deserves  to  know  whom  the  author  is 
debating,  and  why,  and  where  she  or  he  may 
turn  in  order  to  understand  competing  op- 
tions. Examples  could  be  multiplied,  but  I se- 
lect only  one.  In  discussing  Luke  21,  the  au- 
thor writes:  “it  is  wrong  to  say  that  Luke 
understands  the  earthly  ministry  of  Jesus  as 
the  midpoint  of  time,  followed  by  another 
period.  . . . Of  course  the  death,  resurrection, 
and  ascension  of  Jesus  define  a period  be- 
tween two  ages. . . . But  Luke  stresses  the  in- 
timate connection  between  the  two  . . .”  (pp. 
326-27).  Here  Schweizer  (rightly,  in  my 
judgment)  corrects  Hans  Conzelmann’s  po- 
sition (The  Theology  of  St.  Luke  [New  York: 
Harper,  i960]),  yet  Conzelmann  goes  un- 
mentioned. (Conzelmann  also  comes  under 
criticism — anonymously — for  his  interpre- 
tation of  Jesus’  ministry  in  Luke  as  a Satan- 
free  period,  for  his  schematization  of  Lukan 
salvation  history,  and  for  his  understanding 
of  the  role  of  John  the  Baptist  [Luke  16:16].) 

A fourth  reservation  about  this  volume  is 
closely  related  to  the  preceding  one.  Apart 
from  a short  list  of  commentaries  and  mon- 
ographs at  the  outset,  the  author  provides  no 
bibliographical  aids  for  his  readers;  here  he 
could  not  be  further  removed  from  the  An- 
chor Bible  commentary  by  Joseph  A.  Fitz- 
myer  (The  Gospel  According  to  Luke  [2  vol.; 
Garden  City:  Doubleday,  1981-85]),  which 
includes  rich  bibliographical  information. 
Especially  troublesome — and  this  is  a gap 
that  affects  the  success  of  the  exegesis  at 
points — is  Schweizer’s  apparent  lack  of  fa- 
miliarity with  the  literature  on  special  topics 
in  Luke-Acts  (e.g.,  on  possessions,  Luke  T. 
Johnson,  The  Literary  Function  of  Possessions 
in  Luke-Acts  [Missoula:  Scholars,  1977];  the 
study  by  D.  P.  Seccombe,  Possessions  and  the 
Poor  in  Luke-Acts  [Linz:  Studien  zum  Neuen 
Testament  und  seiner  Umwelt  6,  1982],  ap- 
peared in  the  same  year  that  Da.!  Evangelium 
nach  Lukas  was  published,  but  could  have 
been  noted  in  the  1984  English  translation). 
Even  in  a commentary  of  limited  scale, 
greater  care  should  be  taken  to  direct  the 
reader  to  additional  resources  than  is  true 

Finally,  I note  a set  of  minor  problems. 
First,  the  style  of  the  book  (in  translation 
from  German)  is  uneven.  A recurring  stylis- 
tic flaw  involves  improper  placement  of  par- 



enthetical  negations.  For  example:  “Accord- 
ing to  Luke,  it  is  Jesus’  teaching  and 
proclamation  of  the  gospel  that  provokes  the 
question  of  authority,  not  his  cleansing  of  the 
temple”  (p.  303)  should  be  . . it  is  Jesus’ 
teaching  and  proclamation  of  the  gospel,  not 
his  cleansing  of  the  temple,  that  provokes 
. . (cf.  pp.  98,  1 10,  and  elsewhere).  In  all,  I 
noted  a dozen  lapses  in  style  and  syntax,  plus 
eighteen  typographical  errors.  Such  details 
are  not  the  responsibility  of  the  author  of  the 
German  manuscript,  yet  reduce  the  effec- 
tiveness of  his  book  for  English  readers.  Sec- 
ond, an  unfortunate  choice  of  words  has  ren- 
dered problematic  the  headings  given  to 
passages  in  Luke  10-11:  10:25-37  (“The 
Chance  to  Love”);  10:38-42  (“The  Chance  to 
Have  Faith”);  11:1-13  (“The  Chance  to 
Pray”);  11:14-36  (“The  Chance  to  Encounter 
Jesus”).  Particularly  in  light  of  Luke’s  strong 
emphasis  on  the  divine  will  guiding  history, 
a word  like  “opportunity”  would  read  better 
than  “chance.”  Finally,  although  Schweizer’s 
sensitivity  to  the  theological  implications  of 
Luke’s  gospel  for  a middle-class  culture  is 
welcome,  his  tacit  assumption  that  his  read- 
ers are  middle-class  in  orientation  (most 
transparent  on  p.  277)  surely  is  too  restrictive. 

The  Good  News  According  to  Luke  contains 
perceptive  theological  engagement  with  the 
text  of  Luke’s  gospel,  for  those  readers  who 
are  patient  enough  to  search  for  it.  Neverthe- 
less, given  the  availability  of  other  commen- 
taries in  English  and  the  relatively  steep  price 
of  this  compact  commentary,  I can  recom- 
mend it  only  with  serious  reservations. 

John  T.  Carroll 
Lutheran  Theological  Seminary 

Rogers,  Jack.  Presbyterian  Creeds.  A 
Guide  to  the  Book  °f  Confessions . Phila- 
delphia: The  Westminster  Press,  1985. 
Pp.  252.  $8.95  (paper). 

A book  should  be  judged  by  what  the  au- 
thor sets  out  to  accomplish.  Jack  Rogers,  pro- 
fessor of  philosophical  theology  at  Fuller 
Theological  Seminary,  was  appointed  by 
Moderator  J.  Randolph  Taylor  in  1983  to  a 
twenty-one  member  Special  Committee  rep- 
resenting diversities  of  points  of  view  and 
groups  within  the  reunited  church  to  prepare 
a “Brief  Statement  of  Reformed  Faith  for 
possible  inclusion  in  The  Book  of  Confes- 

sions.” However,  as  Rogers  states  in  his  pref- 
ace, his  “commitment  to  and  conception  of 
this  book  long  predates  the  creation  of  that 
committee,  and  the  manuscript  was  finished 
well  before  the  Special  Committee  began  its 
substantial  work.”  He  regards  his  book  as 
“one  small  contribution  to  what  [he]  hopes 
will  be  a comprehensive  process  involving 
the  whole  of  the  Presbyterian  Church 
(U.S.A.)  in  thinking  about  our  theological 
heritage  as  we  move  toward  confessing  our 
faith  anew  in  the  1980s.” 

Rogers’  book  arose  out  of  a conviction, 
shared  by  this  reviewer,  that  a biblical  and 
doctrinal  illiteracy  is  widespread  in  our 
church  even  among  its  deacons,  elders,  and 
ministers  who  are  required  to  take  the  vow: 
“Do  you  sincerely  receive  and  adopt  the  es- 
sential tenets  of  the  Reformed  faith  as  ex- 
pressed in  the  confessions  of  our  church  as 
authentic  and  reliable  expositions  of  what 
Scripture  leads  us  to  believe  and  do  . . . ?” 
Rogers  observes:  “It  is  surely  difficult  to  re- 
ceive and  adopt  essential  tenets  if  no  one  has 
told  you  what  they  are.  It  is  even  more  diffi- 
cult to  be  instructed  and  led  by  the  confes- 
sions if  you  have  never  studied  them.”  Thus 
Rogers’  Guide  to  the  Book  of  Confessions  is  not 
just  “one  small  contribution”;  it  fills  a yawn- 
mg  gap. 

Rogers  writes  for  the  laity,  not  for  special- 
ists in  church  history  and  theology.  Using  the 
case  study  method,  he  examines  each  of  the 
creeds  in  The  Book  °f  Confessions , analyzes 
and  explains  the  historical  situations  in 
which  they  originated,  the  key  persons  in- 
volved, and  the  contemporary  relevance  of 
the  basic  doctrines.  On  the  whole  Rogers  is 
objective  and  fair.  Naturally  some  readers 
will  not  concur  in  all  his  judgments,  as  for 
example,  his  contention  that  the  Westmin- 
ster is  not  a product  of  seventeenth-century 
Protestant  scholasticism.  Incidentally,  in  his 
treatment  of  the  Westminster,  Rogers  makes 
no  mention  of  the  Declaratory  Statement 
which  was  added  to  the  Confession  in  1903. 
The  Statement  modifies,  if  it  does  not  con- 
tradict, what  the  Westminster  taught  in 
Chapter  III  and  Chapter  X,  Section  3.  (See 
Book  °f  Confessions  6. 1 9 1 - 1 93.) 

While  the  author  quotes  freely  from 
sources,  it  is  unfortunate  that  the  book  does 
not  supply  endnotes  to  indicate  names  and 
dates  of  authors.  Although  a “Resources  tor 
Further  Study”  is  appended,  it  contains  seri- 
ous omissions,  such  as  Philip  Schaff s three- 



volume  work.  Creeds  of  Christendom,  T.  F. 
Torrance’s  The  School  of  Faith.  The  Cate- 
chisms of  the  Reformed  Church  ( 1 959),  and  this 
reviewer’s  Reformed  Confessions  of  the  Six- 
teenth Century  (1966).  In  regard  to  individual 
creeds  one  misses  George  S.  Hendry’s  The 
Westminster  Confession  for  Today:  A Contem- 
porary Interpretation  (1962)  and  a new  trans- 
lation of  The  Heidelberg  Catechism  with  Com- 
mentary edited  by  Allen  O.  Miller  and 
M.  Eugene  Osterhaven  (1963). 

Although  one  is  grateful  for  Rogers’  his- 
torical descriptions  of  the  origin  of  the  creeds 
and  their  contemporary  relevance,  one  fails 
to  find  a clear-cut  doctrine  of  what  a creed  or 
confession  actually  is.  We  ask:  does  the 
church  create  a confession  or  does  a confes- 
sion create  the  church?  The  Reformed 
Confessions  of  the  sixteenth  century  and  the 
Barmen  Theological  Declaration  created 
churches — churches  which  claimed  to  speak 
and  act  as  the  one,  holy,  catholic  church  of  Je- 
sus Christ.  A related  question  is  whether  a 
church  should  be  concerned  to  confess  the 
Reformed  faith  or  “point  of  view,”  Calvin- 
ism or  Lutheranism?  Is  this  not  to  lapse  into 
a confessionalism  rather  than  a confession  of 
Jesus  Christ  in  response  to  his  question, 
“Who  do  you  say  that  I am?”  and  not  “Who 
do  men  say  that  the  Son  of  man  is?”  (Mt. 
16:13-18)?  Rogers  rightly  points  out  (p.  219) 
that  the  General  Assembly  and  the  authors 
of  the  Confession  of  1967  did  not  want  it  to 
be  understood  as  merely  a Presbyterian 
Confession.  The  Assembly  unanimously 
adopted  a motion  made  by  this  author  that 
“this  179th  General  Assembly  humbly  com- 
mends this  our  Confession  of  1967  to  other 
Christian  churches — Roman  Catholic,  Or- 
thodox, and  Protestant — for  their  prayerful 
consideration  and  study,  that  if  need  be,  this 
our  confession,  may  be  corrected  out  of 
God’s  mouth,  the  Holy  Scriptures;  and  that 
this  our  confession  of  reconciliation  in 
Christ,  or  some  such  confession,  may  be  the 
confession  of  the  one,  holy,  catholic  church  of 
Jesus  Christ  in  this  land.” 

It  is  necessary  and  good  that  Presbyterians 
should  study  their  historic  creeds  critically  as 
aids  to  confessing  Jesus  Christ  today  as  God’s 
one  Word  and  work  of  peace  and  grace  and 
between  and  among  Jews  and  Gentile  na- 
tions. Such  a confession  would  not  simply  ce- 
ment a merger  between  two  Presbyterian 
bodies  but  the  creation  of  one,  holy,  catholic 
church  on  earth.  Is  such  a confession  possi- 

ble? With  humanity  it  is  impossible,  but  with 
God  all  things  are  possible — even  a confes- 
sion which  is  able  to  say  Yes  to  the  truth  and 
an  explicit  or  implicit  No  to  error.  Such  a 
confession  will  always  be  an  offense  to  the 
world  and  a worldly  church.  It  will  inevita- 
bly involve  its  confessors  in  persecution  and 
suffering  (cf.  Matthew  10).  Yet  they  will  ex- 
perience a new  joyous  freedom  which  the 
world  cannot  give  and  cannot  take  away — a 
freedom  reflected  in  the  lives  of  Dietrich 
Bonhoeffer  and  Martin  Niemoeller.  May 
God  spare  us  from  anything  less! 

Arthur  C.  Cochrane 
University  of  Dubuque 

Theological  Seminary 

Allen,  Diogenes.  Philosophy  for  Un- 
derstanding Theology.  Atlanta:  John 

Knox  Press,  1985.  Pp.  287. 

I first  perused  Allen’s  Philosophy  for  Un- 
derstanding Theology  in  typescript.  Hence 
when  asked  to  review  the  book  I thought  it 
would  take  but  a few  hours  work.  Upon 
reading  it  properly  however  I found  that  I 
got  much  more  than  I had  bargained  for, 
both  in  effort  and  in  reward. 

The  method  itself  is  to  be  commended. 
Rather  than  following  a strict  historical  se- 
quence, or  writing  a history  of  philosophy, 
Allen  chooses  the  philosophies  and/or  philos- 
ophers he  presents  from  the  perspective  of 
and  according  to  their  contribution  to  the 
theological  enterprise.  He  begins  with  a short 
“Introduction”  that  emphasizes  the  basic  dif- 
ference between  the  Greek,  specifically  Ar- 
istotelian, perspective  of  God  as  the  Prime 
Mover  of  an  eternal  world  and  the  Biblical 
understanding  of  God  as  the  creator  of  a fi- 
nite world  from  which  he  is  strictly  differ- 
entiated. He  then  launches  into  a seriatim 
explication  of  the  philosophers  and/or  phi- 
losophies from  Plato  (for  Allen,  a most  re- 
spected Plato)  through  the  Platonic  tradition, 
Aristotle,  Aquinas,  nominalism,  humanism, 
the  scientific  revolution,  rationalism,  empir- 
icism, the  Enlightenment,  Kant,  Hegel,  and 
the  contemporary  philosophy  as  seen  in  ex- 
istentialism, phenomenology,  analytic  phi- 
losophy, and  hermeneutics. 

With  such  a compass  one  might  be 
tempted  to  presuppose  that  the  discussion 
would  of  necessity  be  somewhat  superficial. 
Such  is  indeed  not  the  case.  With  a rather 


1 99 

daring  display  of  learning  combined  with  a 
profundity  of  understanding,  Allen  offers 
the  reader  the  opportunity  of  “going  to 
school  with  him.”  As  one  confronts  each  of 
the  philosophers  and/or  philosophies  in  turn, 
one  is  led  to  learn  of  their  origins,  trace  their 
histories,  review  their  content,  and  under- 
stand the  consequences  of  their  thought  lor 
the  theological  enterprise. 

Plato  is  elucidated,  compared,  and  con- 
trasted with  the  Stoics  and  Pseudo-Dionysius 
and  is  shown  to  be  basic  to  the  neoplatoni- 
cally-influenced theology  ot  Augustine.  Ar- 
istotle’s categories  and  his  concept  of  God  are 
explained  especially  as  they  influenced  the 
scholastic  theology  of  Aquinas.  Nominalism, 
Humanism,  and  the  Scientific  Revolution  of 
the  seventeenth  century,  as  seen  in  the 
thought  of  Ockham,  Brahe  Kepler,  Galileo, 
Descartes,  Bacon,  Hobbes,  Locke,  Newton, 
and  Leibniz,  eventuated  in  a self-sufficient 
mechanistic  world  and  a Deistic  God  to 
match,  “the  God  of  the  sabbath  rest.” 

Then  came  rationalism,  empiricism,  and 
the  Enlightenment  led  by  Descartes  whose 
cogito  ergo  sum , “1  think  therefore  I am,”  sep- 
arated mind  from  body,  subjectivized  reality, 
and  mechanized  matter.  Spinoza  attempted 
to  overcome  the  Cartesian  split  with  his 
“neutral  monism,”  and  deified  the  world 
with  his  “monistic  pantheism”  characterized 
by  deterministic  necessity.  Leibniz’  combi- 
nation of  morality  and  necessity  resulted  in 
the  principle  of  “sufficient  reason”  whereby 
things  were  true  because  “it  is  best  that  they 
be  true.”  Locke  was  certain  that  ideas  were 
not  innate,  as  Descartes,  Spinoza,  and  Leib- 
niz and  as  Plato  before  them  had  thought, 
but  developed  empiricism  on  the  basis  that 
ideas  derive  from  experience.  Berkeley 
coined  the  phrase,  esse  est  percipi , “to  be  is  to 
be  perceived,”  and  with  his  “phenomenal- 
ism” challenged  Locke’s  concept  of  “abstract 
ideas”  by  insisting  that  what  exists  are  sensi- 
ble objects  as  perceived  by  mind,  if  not  ours 
then  God’s.  And  then  came  Hume  who  di- 
vided all  perceptions  into  ideas  and  impres- 
sions and  threatened  the  validity  of  the 
whole  scientific  enterprise  by  calling  causal- 
ity into  question. 

Kant  picked  up  Hume’s  challenge  to  cau- 
sality (there  is  no  observable  necessary  con- 
nection between  our  impressions)  and  at- 
tempted to  rescue  not  only  science  but 
rationality  as  well  by  introducing  the  cate- 
gories of  the  a priori , that  truth  not  estab- 

lished by  experience,  over  against  the  a poste- 
riori, that  which  is  warranted  by  experience. 
By  subjectivizing  the  Newtonian  concepts  of 
space  and  time  (which  for  Newton  were  the 
infinite  coordinates  of  the  world)  into  forms 
of  sensibility,  Kant  caused  a “Copernican 
revolution”  in  thought.  He  placed  the  hu- 
man mind  in  the  center  of  reality  so  that  it 
affected  and  directed  (actually  formed)  the 
objects  it  conceived. 

Hegel  incorporated  Fichte’s  “absolute 
ego”  and  Schelling’s  “absolute  identity”  to 
develop  his  scheme  of  absolute  idealism 
wherein  the  “absolute  spirit”  ( Geist ) or  God 
is  a unity  with  its  own  intrinsic  dialectic. 
Thus  all  reality  is  in  unity  with  its  own  ne- 
gation. The  absolute  Spirit  bcomes  its  own 
other  and  knows  itself  as  the  other  in  the  his- 
torical process  that  itself  moves  toward  its 
completion.  The  Spirit  interacts  dialectically 
with  its  negation  and  completes  itself  in  a 
process  of  actualization  in  the  concreteness  of 
the  world.  The  final  reconciliation  of  infinite 
and  finite  is  seen  par  excellence  in  the  Incar- 
nation of  Christ,  the  proof  of  their  essential 
identity.  The  system  affects  not  only  nine- 
teenth-century theology  but  politics,  espe- 
cially that  of  nationalism  and  Marxism. 

In  the  discussion  of  existentialism,  phe- 
nomenology, analytic  philosophy,  and  her- 
meneutics, Allen  gives  us  a quick,  very 
quick,  overview  of  the  thought  that  has  ef- 
fected theology  in  the  twentieth  century.  The 
Roman  Catholic  renewal  of  Thomas  by  Ma- 
ritain,  Gilson,  and  de  Wulf  is  matched  with 
the  renewal  of  Protestantism  by  Barth.  Barth 
is  credited  with  bringing  Kierkegaard  into 
the  theological  conversation.  Early  on,  Kier- 
kegaard had  attacked  Hegel  for  having  for- 
gotten “what  it  is  to  be  an  existing  human 
being”  whose  identity  depends  upon  subjec- 
tive decision.  Rather  than  a Hegelian  identity 
with  the  Infinite,  Kierkegaard  insisted  that 
God  is  “totally  other.”  Barth  then  picked  up 
on  Kierkegaard’s  God  as  “wholly  other"  and 
repudiated  both  Hegelian  idealism  and 
Thomistic  natural  theology  by  insisting  that 
“there  are  no  concepts  or  categories  available 
to  our  reason  which  enable  us  to  gain  knowl- 
edge of  God’s  existence  or  nature.”  Revela- 
tion is  a result  of  God’s  own  “self-commu- 

In  contrast  to  Kierkegaard,  Sartre’s  exis- 
tentialism analyzes  human  life  without  God 
and  teaches  that  all  values  are  simply  human 
projections.  Humankind’s  desire  to  be  com- 



plete  along  with  its  inability  to  be  complete 
deprives  life  of  sense  and  condemns  it  to 
being  absurd.  The  recognition  of  this  absurd- 
ity gives  life  the  quality  of  “authenticity.” 
Heidegger,  on  the  other  hand,  follows  Plo- 
tinus and  is  in  turn  followed  by  Tillich  in  his 
concern  to  see  Being  that  both  constitutes 
and  is  concealed  in  beings.  Our  being  (Da- 
sein)  “being  there”  has  meaning  in  becoming. 
Filled  with  Angst  because  of  our  finitude  and 
our  certainty  of  death,  we  are  called  upon  “to 
exist”  which  is  “to  choose  oneself.” 

Here  we  see  the  roots  of  Bultmann’s  quest 
for  authenticity  that  leads  to  interpretation  of 
the  gospel  in  existentialistic  terms  and  to  his 
program  of  demythologization.  Tillich’s 
“question  of  Being”  is,  as  indicated,  prima- 
rily dependent  on  Heidegger  but  he  utilized 
neoplatonic  categories  as  well.  Buber’s  un- 
derstanding of  God  who  can  be  known  not 
by  speculation  but  only  in  “encounter”  shares 
the  existential  emphasis  as  does  Marcel 
whose  stress  on  engagement  and  participa- 
tion leads  to  his  seeking  solutions  by  “partic- 
ipating in  mystery.”  For  Jasper’s  faith  is  op- 
erative in  such  “limit  situations”  of  death, 
suffering,  failure,  and  guilt.  Myths  are  “ci- 
phers” that  may  provide  access  to  transcend- 

Husserl,  who  developed  phenomenology 
as  “a  non-empirical  science,”  shares  with 
Heidegger  and  Sartre  the  emphasis  on  the 
“intentionality  of  consciousness”  as  constitu- 
tive of  reality.  By  way  of  his  Lebenswelt  (life- 
world)  he  attempts  to  see  the  world  from  a 
prescientific  point  of  view  where  subject  and 
object  are  not  set  over  against  one  another. 
This  protest  against  “scientific  reduction- 
ism”  contrasts  sharply  with  logical  positivism 
which  tries  to  reduce  all  scientific  statements 
to  statements  of  sense  observation  and  to 
judge  validity  on  the  basis  of  verification  or 
falsification.  Nonempirical  language  and 
statements  of  faith  are  judged  as  meaningless 
because  they  cannot  be  falsified.  Wittgen- 
stein, out  of  whose  Vienna  Circle  logical  pos- 
itivism arose,  believed  that  “there  was  more 
than  could  be  said.”  Words  can  not  com- 
pletely encompass  reality,  nor  can  material 
objects  be  reduced  to  sense  data.  Words  have 
meaning  not  in  themselves  but  in  accordance 
to  the  “language  game”  in  which  they  are 

All  of  this  has  affected  modern  hermeneu- 
tics, the  “science  of  interpretation.”  Dilthey 

divided  the  knowing  of  the  world  into  the 
Naturwissenschaften  (natural  sciences)  and 
the  Geistswissenschaften  (human  sciences).  He 
introduced  the  category  o (Erlebnis  (lived  ex- 
perience) to  emphasize  the  historical  dimen- 
sion of  understanding  wherein  “all  human 
experience,  concepts,  and  institutions  are 
conditioned  by  time,  place,  and  circum- 
stance.” Such  thinking  leads  directly  to  Ga- 
damer,  who  with  his  “fusion  of  horizons”  at- 
tempts to  bring  the  world  of  the  text  and  that 
of  the  interpreter  together  so  that  that  proper 
meaning  of  the  text  arises.  By  moving  from 
the  situation  of  the  interpreter  to  that  of  the 
author  and  understanding  both  in  terms  of 
their  historical  and  cultural  situations,  “pre- 
understandings” are  revealed  and  meaning 
evolves  in  consideration  of  them.  The 
scheme  is  foundational  to  the  “new  herme- 
neutics” of  such  “post-Bultmannians”  as 
Fuchs  and  Ebeling.  “Narrative  theology”  too 
is  beholden  to  it. 

I began  by  saying  that  Allen  had  written  a 
“good  book.”  I did  not  say  it  was  an  “easy 
book.”  John  Knox  Press  is  to  be  congratu- 
lated that  it  took  on  a volume  of  such  sub- 
stance. I wish  however  that  they  would  have 
encouraged  more  footnotes.  Perhaps  just  to 
justify  myself,  I do  have  a few  criticisms.  The 
first  is  obvious.  There  sometimes  is  so  much 
in  so  short  a space  that  important  thinkers 
come  in  for  somewhat  uneven  treatment. 
Ficte  and  Schelling,  for  instance,  are  barely 
mentioned  although  Schelling  in  particular 
is  of  vital  importance  to  the  whole  Hegelian 
development.  It  was  from  him  that  Hegel 
adopted  the  idea  of  the  Infinite  manifesting 
itself  under  the  conditions  of  finitude  with 
the  resulting  intrinsic  dialectic  that  became 
so  fateful  for  nineteenth-century  thought  in 
general  and  especially  for  Marxism. 

One  could  also  argue  with  the  sequence  of 
presentation.  To  discuss  neoplatonism,  for 
instance,  on  the  basis  of  Plato  sans  Aristotle 
may  give  a somewhat  limited  perspective 
since  Plotinus  was  beholden  to  both.  Schol- 
arship, however,  inevitably  involves  compro- 
mises, and  it  is  more  important  to  consider 
Aristotle’s  relationship  to  Aquinas  and  me- 
dieval theology  than  it  is  to  relate  him  to  the 
philosophical  background  of  Augustine.  Al- 
len’s discussion  of  Process  in  relationship  to 
Aquinas  is  sheer  genius.  Aquinas  is  the 
“straw  theologian”  against  whom  Process 
people  are  prone  to  tilt.  Barth’s  critique  of 



Aquinas  is  well  put.  Barth’s  “Nein”  to  the 
proposed  natural  theology  of  Emil  Brunner 
and  his  vehement  rejection  of  any  form  of 
analogia  entis  are  primary  examples.  Kierke- 
gaard’s influence  on  Barth  is  also  clear.  It 
might  well  have  been  appropriate,  however, 
to  trace  something  of  Barth’s  development 
from  his  Romerbnef , second  edition,  and  his 
Chnstliche  Dogmatik,  where  there  is  an  ad- 
mitted dependence  on  the  categories  of  exis- 
tentialism, to  his  later  “Theology  of  the 
Word”  of  the  Dogmatics,  where  Anselm’s 
confessional  stance  becomes  foundational. 

Allen’s  including  the  “scientific  revolu- 
tion” in  the  categories  of  a philosophical 
movement  and  his  undergirding  his  choice 
by  quoting  Butterfield’s  estimate  that  science 
is  the  most  important  movement  in  the  West 
since  the  rise  of  Christianity  is  most  appro- 
priate. Some  mention  of  both  Newtonian  sci- 
ence and  the  Einsteinian  and  post-Einstein- 
ian  developments  that  show  science  to  be  a 
confessional  and  limited  enterprise  would 
perhaps  have  given  a more  complete  per- 
spective of  the  issue. 

A more  major  concern  perhaps  is  to  ask 
whether  philosophy,  even  that  of  Plato,  is 
necessarily  helpful  to  theology.  It  may  be  just 
possible  that  the  difference  between  the  un- 
derstanding of  God  in  Greek  philosophy  and 
that  of  the  Bible  (which  difference  Allen 
points  out  again  and  again),  so  skews  the  cat- 
egories involved  that  their  use  in  support  of 
Christian  theology,  without  severe  qualifica- 
tion, may  lead  to  quite  profound  misunder- 
standing. Nietzsche’s  searing  critique  of 
Protestantism  as  "Platomsmus  fur  das  Vol!(' 
(Platonism  for  the  people)  may  still  need  to 
be  taken  with  some  seriousness. 

However,  any  "objections”  one  might 
level  at  Allen’s  work  pale  in  comparison  to 
its  usefulness  in  teaching  theological  students 
the  philosophical  background  of  theological 
thought.  The  paucity  of  much  of  our  theo- 
logical understanding  is  a direct  result  of  a 
lack  of  acquaintance  with  the  kind  of 
thought  structures  utilized  in  theological  dis- 
course. Allen’s  Philosophy  for  Understanding 
Theology  provides  the  material  to  correct  that 
perspective,  material  that  is  a.  sine  qua  non  for 
every  theological  student  who  would  be  en- 
abled to  become  a responsible  theologian. 

One  last  note:  being  in  Kentucky,  from 
where  I write  these  lines  and  from  where  Al- 
len originally  came,  the  book,  the  eighth  for 

the  author,  also  indicates  that  on  occasion  at 
least  something  besides  whiskey,  tobacco, 
race  horses,  and  even  basketball  teams  may 
originate  in  the  Blue  Grass  state. 

Harold  P.  Nebelsick 
Louisville  Presbyterian 

Theological  Seminary 

Purtill,  Richard  L.  C.  S.  Lewis’s  Case 
for  the  Christian  Faith.  San  Francisco: 
Harper  & Row,  1985.  Pp.  xi  + 146.  $6.95 

Beversluis,  John.  C.  S.  Lewis  and  the 
Search  for  Rational  Religion.  Grand  Rap- 
ids: Wm.  B.  Eerdmans  Publishing  Co., 
1985.  Pp.  xiv  + 182. 

Both  these  books  focus  on  C.  S.  Lewis’s 
apologetics  and  can  helpfully  be  read  to- 
gether. Purtill  argues  that  Lewis’s  apologet- 
ics are  almost  entirely  convincing,  whereas 
Beversluis  argues  that  virtually  all  Lewis’s 
arguments  were  faulty.  Purtill,  being  sym- 
pathetic with  Lewis’s  approach,  often  under- 
stands his  arguments  better  than  does  Bev- 
ersluis. However,  the  latter,  with  his  very 
skeptical  eye,  does  indeed  call  attention  to  the 
weakest  places  in  Lewis’s  logical  structure. 

Purtill’s  presentations  do  not  generally 
add  much  to  our  understanding  of  Lewis’s 
arguments  as  we  glean  them  from  his  own 
writings.  At  his  best  Purtill  draws  together 
material  that  is  scattered  in  Lewis,  thus  mak- 
ing some  arguments  somewhat  clearer  and 
more  compelling.  For  example,  on  Lewis’s 
argument  for  the  divinity  of  Christ,  Purtill 
shows  that  Lewis  did  not  simply  set  up  a false 
dichotomy  (Lord  or  lunatic)  but  first  of  all 
considered  a third  alternative,  that  the  gospel 
accounts  of  Jesus’  self-understanding  are  un- 

One  of  the  few  places  where  Purtill  criti- 
cizes Lewis’s  arguments  concerns  one  small 
step  in  the  argument  for  the  existence  of  God 
based  on  the  validity  of  human  reason.  Pur- 
till speaks  here  of  “one  of  his  rare  missteps  in 
argument”  (p.  26)  and  probably  is  right  in  his 
criticism  of  Lewis  at  this  point.  But  then  Pur- 
till asserts:  “What  Lewis  needs  to  argue,  and 
indeed  does  argue  indirectly  . . .”  and  then 
goes  on  to  attribute  to  Lewis  a better  argu- 
ment. Thus,  even  here,  Purtill  sees  no  signif- 
icant weaknesses  in  the  overall  argument. 



That  blindness  of  the  disciple  entails  that 
Purtill’s  book  does  not  really  advance  our 
understanding  ot  Lewis’s  apologetics. 

Beversluis,  on  the  other  hand,  uses  his 
scalpel  on  that  same  argument  and  leaves 
hardly  anything  but  shreds  at  the  end.  The 
essence  of  the  author’s  criticism  is  that 
“Lewis  understood  naturalism  and  the  issues 
it  raises  no  better  than  he  understood  ethical 
subjectivism.  . . . Like  the  gods  of  the 
heathen  Lewis’s  straw  men  have  eyes  but 
they  see  not;  ears  have  they  but  they  hear  not; 
neither  speak  they  through  their  throats.  The 
genuine  naturalists  of  which  they  are  carica- 
tures, however,  can  respond  briefly  and  con- 
clusively: ‘We  do  not  believe  what  you  say 
we  believe,  so  whomever  you  are  refuting,  it 
is  not  us’  ” (p.  83). 

Earlier  in  the  chapter,  however,  the  au- 
thor offered  a different,  more  accurate  judg- 
ment, one  that  essentially  refutes  his  own 
charge  of  Lewis  creating  a caricature:  “Al- 
though most  naturalists  do  not  claim  that  hu- 
man behavior  can  be  exhaustively  explicated 
in  terms  of  one  set  of  explanatory  categories, 
some  do.  . . . Such  naturalists  are  refuted  by 
Lewis’s  argument.  The  fact  remains,  how- 
ever, that  there  are  many  other  less  naive  va- 
rieties of  naturalism.  Against  them,  Lewis’s 
argument  has  no  force”  (p.  75). 

The  central  issue  here  is  whether  it  is  rea- 
sonable to  complain  that  Lewis  argued  only 
against  extreme  naturalists  rather  than 
against  sophisticated  ones.  The  apologist 
properly  argues  against  the  opponents  he 
knows.  Clearly  the  former  group,  who  could 
be  called  Mechanists  (because  the  world  to 
them  is  nothing  but  a complex  machine), 
were  the  opponents  Lewis  had  met  in  battle. 
They  were  not  straw  men  but  the  very  real 
advocates  of  a hard-nosed  empiricist  natural- 
ism that  was  common  in  Lewis’s  day.  If  Bev- 
ersluis finds  them  to  be  straw  men,  it  may  be 
because  in  the  United  States  today  such  a 
view  has  been  so  adequately  refuted  (by 
Lewis  and  others)  that  few  dare  adopt  it. 
Beversluis’  failure  here  is  an  historical  one; 
he  was  not  able  to  stand  in  Lewis’s  place  in 
the  1 930s  and  1940s  and  see  what  the  very 
real  opponents  at  that  time  (Logical  Positiv- 
ists) were  saying.  Thus  in  his  criticizing 
Lewis  it  is  Beversluis  who  sets  up  a straw 
man — a Lewis  who  did  not  understand  his 
opponents.  If  we  had  no  other  evidence  at  all, 
who  would  we  go  to  to  understand  Lewis’s 
opponents?  Lewis  himself,  who  had  met 

them  in  Socratic  Club  debates  tor  years,  or  an 
unsympathetic  critic  writing  forty  years  later 
in  a different  country? 

As  a further  example  of  Beversluis’  ag- 
gressive criticism  of  Lewis’s  arguments,  con- 
sider the  following:  “he  examines  only  two 
versions  of  the  position  he  opposes,  and  only 
the  weakest  and  most  carelessly  formulated 
ones  at  that:  the  view  that  morality  is  either 
a ‘herd  instinct’  or  a mere  subjective  prefer- 
ence . . .”  (p.  40).  In  fact,  Beversluis  has  at  this 
point  simply  ignored  the  details  of  Lewis’s 
chief  discussion  on  this  subject  of  what  the 
grounding  of  morality  is.  In  Mere  Christianity 
Lewis  discussed  the  Herd  Instinct,  then  the 
thesis  that  the  Moral  Law  is  “just  a social 
convention,”  then  that  it  is  only  personal 
preference,  and  finally  the  theory  of  Social 
utilitarianism.  This  is  just  one  example  of 
Beversluis’  failure  as  an  interpreter  of  Lewis. 
By  his  lack  of  sympathy  with  Lewis’s  pur- 
poses (popular  apologetics)  and  lack  of  his- 
torical knowledge  about  Lewis’s  audience, 
he  continuously  mis-reads  Lewis.  Bever- 
sluis’s  charge  against  Lewis  is  much  more 
obviously  accurate  when  turned  back  against 
Beversluis:  "he  exhibits  a persistent  tendency 
toward  carelessness,  inaccuracy,  and  over- 
simplification whenever  he  discusses  oppos- 
ing views”  (p.  41). 

Not  quite  all  of  Beversluis’  evaluation  of 
Lewis’s  arguments  is  negative.  In  a chapter 
entitled  “Fideism”  he  brought  up  the  debates 
over  Logical  Positivism,  the  Falsification 
Criterion,  and  the  charge  (made  by  his  con- 
temporaries in  the  1940s)  that  Lewis  had  not 
kept  up  with  the  philosophical  debate.  Bev- 
ersluis refutes  those  charges,  concluding: 
“Although  it  would  be  misleadingly  anach- 
ronistic to  say  that  Lewis  accepted  Flew’s 
Falsification  Criterion  and  the  challenge  it 
poses,  it  is  nevertheless  perfectly  accurate  to 
claim  that  he  was  fully  aware  of  its  underly- 
ing logic  and  that  he  set  forth  a clear  account 
of  the  kind  of  evidence  he  would  have  re- 
garded as  counting  strongly,  perhaps  even 
decisively,  against  his  belief  in  a good  and 
loving  God  . . .”  (p.  138). 

Much  more  often,  however,  Beversluis’ 
book  is  critical  of  Lewis’s  arguments.  In 
places  the  objections  are  compelling,  as  in  his 
argument  that  Lewis’s  The  Problem  of  Pam 
provides  no  real  help  on  the  problem  of  in- 
nocent suffering.  Too  often,  however,  the 
author  does  not  adequately  place  Lewis  in  his 
own  historical  situation,  confronting  his  own 



particular  intellectual  opponents.  Rather 
Beversluis  falsely  seems  to  assume  that 
Lewis’s  arguments  were  meant  to  be  eter- 
nally and  inter-culturally  valid,  aimed  at  the 
most  sophisticated  present-day  versions  of 
the  views  he  rejected.  Thus  the  criticism  is 
anachronistic,  even  ill-tempered  at  times. 

However,  it  is  a book  Lewis  would  have 
loved.  Even  more  would  he  have  loved  to  get 
its  author  on  the  other  side  of  the  house  at  a 
Socratic  Club  debate  where  the  bonny  battle 
could  have  been  waged  with  delight. 

Peter  W.  Macky 

Westminster  College 

Cox,  Harvey.  Religion  in  the  Secular 
City:  Toward  a Postmodern  Theology. 
New  York:  Simon  & Schuster,  1984.  Pp. 
304.  $7.95. 

Harvey  Cox’s  Religion  in  the  Secular  City 
does  not  recant  his  earlier  The  Secular  City, 
but  it  does  take  seriously  the  religion  which 
is  fermenting  in  the  streets  outside  the  “sec- 
ular” walls  of  the  academic  establishment. 
The  book  is  significant  not  because  of  Cox’s 
great  theological  innovativeness,  but  because 
of  his  ability  to  listen  to  the  voices  and  whis- 
pers at  the  margins  of  theological  reflection. 
Cox  seeks  to  go  beyond  a theology  which 
mirrors  the  “modern"  to  a theology  of  the  fu- 
ture which  he  calls  “postmodern.”  In  order 
to  get  beyond  the  barrier  of  contemporary 
Western  culture  and  its  theological  “mod- 
ernism" he  explores  the  critiques  of  modern 
thought  which  come  from  fundamentalism 
and  from  liberation  theology. 

Part  One  of  the  book  listens  carefully  and 
sympathetically  to  a fundamentalist  critique 
of  modern  theology.  Jerry  Falwell  is  the  rep- 
resentative fundamentalist.  Cox  visits  the 
Liberty  Baptist  church  and  he  spends  some 
personal  time  with  the  leader  of  the  moral 
majority.  He  recognizes  that  “fundamental- 
ism arose  as  a way  of  reclaiming  the  author- 
ity and  accessibility  of  the  Bible  from  the 
‘modernists,’  ” but  fundamentalism  then 
went  on  to  try  to  establish  its  own  monopoly 
on  Biblical  interpretation  (168).  Cox  con- 
cludes that  this  stream  of  American  popular 
religion  does  not  have  much  to  offer  to  the 
future  because  it  is  itself  so  much  a product 
of  the  modern  American  scene.  He  asks  the 
fundamentalists  it  they  are  willing  to  test 
their  positions  “through  careful  study  of  the 

Bible  and  discussions  with  people  who  share 
the  same  faith  but  have  a different  culture?” 
(63).  It  is  a question  that  disqualifies  much  of 
fundamentalism  for  Cox,  but  it  is  a question 
that  disturbs  most  theological  positions. 
Later  it  is  suggested  that  the  christological 
formula  “personal  savior”  “almost  always 
functions  as  an  impediment  to  a mature 
faith”  for  affluent  American  fundamental- 
ists,” but  that  the  same  confession  “bestows 
confidence  and  human  worth  on  a people 
who  are  deprived  of  these  by  the  world  . . .” 
(237).  Cox’s  choice  of  Falwell  to  be  the 
spokesperson  of  American  fundamentalism 
may  itself  be  taking  the  mass  media  too  seri- 
ously. There  must  be  a way  to  listen  to  those 
quieter  fundamentalist  voices  from  the  cin- 
derblock  and  storefront  churches  without 
being  drowned  out  by  the  television  broad- 
casts of  the  superfundamentalists.  Cox  is 
himself  susceptible  to  fundamentalist  criti- 
cism against  the  “overeducated”  and  is  some- 
what suspect  for  his  ability  with  words,  but 
he  has  taken  the  very  significant  step  of  sit- 
ting down  with  real  fundamentalists  to  learn 
from  their  criticism  of  “modernist”  theology. 
He  ends  by  accusing  them  of  being  too  mod- 
ern themselves,  but  hopefully  the  dialogue 
can  continue  beyond  these  initial  observa- 

Part  Two  of  the  book  listens  to  liberation 
theology.  Cox  chooses  Ernesto  Cardinale  of 
Nicaragua  as  a representative,  but  it  becomes 
clear  that  he  has  sat  with  many  more  people 
at  this  end  of  the  spectrum  than  at  the  other. 
He  anticipates  a much  greater  contribution 
to  postmodern  theologizing  emerging  from 
the  base  community  Bible  studies  of  the  poor 
than  from  the  more  American  reflections  of 
fundamentalists.  He  celebrates  what  hap- 
pens when  the  Bible  is  put  back  into  the 
hands  of  “ordinary  people  from  whom  all 
these  well  meaning  authorities  have  removed 
it”  (169).  He  indicates  that  the  emergence  of 
base  community  Bible  groups  “first  in  Latin 
America  and  then  elsewhere,  constitutes  a 
change  in  the  Catholic  Church  that  may  be 
even  more  influential  than  the  Vatican 
Council  in  shaping  the  future  ot  Christian- 
ity” ( 1 1 7).  The  title  of  chapter  12,  “Libera- 
tion Theology:  The  Voices  of  the  Unin- 
vited,” introduces  both  his  theological 
method  and  his  new  mentors.  Poor  Chris- 
tians reading  the  Bible,  without  fear  of  the 
experts,  have  begun  “A  New  Reformation” 
(the  title  of  the  last  chapter).  He  sees  libera- 



tion  theology  as  a “church  theology”  par  ex- 
cellence (151).  Cox  is  not  pushing  liberation 
theology,  but  is  inviting  us  all  to  a theological 
dialogue  which  promises  to  get  us  unstuck 
from  the  modern,  in  touch  with  the  early 
church,  and  ready  to  do  theology  tor  the  fu- 

Part  Three  borrows  from  Christians  at 
“the  bottom  and  the  edges”  as  sources  of  a 
postmodern  theology.  He  looks  to  rednecks 
and  blacks,  women  and  poor  people,  Asians, 
Africans,  and  Latin  Americans  as  untainted 
sources  for  a postmodern  theology.  Cox  con- 
tends that  “A  viable  postmodern  theology 
will  be  created  neither  by  those  who  have 
completely  withdrawn  from  the  modern 
world  nor  by  those  who  have  affirmed  it  un- 
conditionally. It  will  come  from  those  who 
have  lived  within  it  but  have  never  been  fully 
part  of  it”  (209).  These  “noncultured  despis- 
ers"  did  not  despise  religion,  but  they  de- 
spised “the  modern  world  itself”  (179).  They 
are  in  a position  to  ask  the  most  theologically 
significant  questions  without  accepting  and 
assuming  the  values  of  modern  culture.  Sit 
with  Harvey  Cox  and  some  poor  Mexican 
Catholics  at  a shrine  to  the  Virgin  of  Gua- 
dalupe and  find  out  how  much  we  have  to 
learn  about  the  God  of  the  poor,  equalitarian 
religious  structures,  and  an  appreciation  for 
the  ritual  dimension  in  human  life. 

This  is  a very  significant  book.  Harvey 
Cox  is  the  model  for  the  theologian  of  the  fu- 
ture, not  because  of  his  ability  to  create  novel 
systems  of  theology,  but  because  of  his  ability 
to  help  us  hear  the  parts  of  the  church  that 
have  tended  to  be  voiceless.  His  clever 
phrases  will  continue  to  provide  intellectual 
stimulation  for  the  “overeducated,”  but  will 
hopefully  also  open  up  the  kind  of  dialogue 
which  will  make  the  insights  of  the  whole 
church  a resource  for  theology.  He  asks  us  to 
“rethink  the  Gospel  from  the  viewpoint  of 
those  who  have  been  excluded  from  or  tram- 
pled by  the  modern  world”  (208).  Critics  may 
ask  what  will  happen  if  these  unheard  voices 
become  a new  orthodoxy,  or  a new  modern- 
ism? Cox’s  methodology  of  listening  to  the 
quiet  voices  at  the  margins  seems  to  promise 
a continuing  corrective  force  which  frees  us 
to  celebrate  the  present  insights  into  the  Gos- 
pel without  undue  fear.  There  will  always  be 
someone  at  the  edges  of  society  who  deserves 
our  attention  and  who  corrects  our  preten- 
sion. Cox  is  tempted  by  Raschke’s  suggestion 
that  “dialogy”  replace  theology.  He  con- 

cludes, however,  by  celebrating  a redefined 
postmodern  theology  much  less  “graven  in 
stone"  than  past  theologies  and  much  more 
open  to  “mutual  listening  ...  in  the  day-to- 
day  combat  and  compromise  of  real  life” 

The  title  of  the  book  attempts  to  capitalize 
on  the  popularity  of  the  earlier  The  Secular 
City.  It  may,  however,  be  more  useful  to  note 
the  continuity  with  his  marvelous,  but  less 
read,  book  The  Feast  of  Fools.  People  at  the 
bottom  of  the  heap  of  modernity  both  ques- 
tion the  intellectual  establishment  and  teach 
it  to  celebrate  the  Gospel.  It  is  a banquet  the 
contemporary  Christian  theologian  can  not 
afford  to  miss  simply  because  of  the  diverse 
“riff-raff”  who  have  been  invited.  Harvey 
Cox  offers  a compelling  invitation  to  a ban- 
quet where  academic,  modern  theologians 
will  not  feel  very  comfortable,  but  where 
they  will  find  a Divine  Host  who  is  surpris- 
ingly at  home.  This  Christian  dialogue  is  a 
must  for  both  thinkers  and  doers,  and  this 
book  is  an  excellent  way  to  begin. 

Donald  H.  Liebert 

Whitworth  College 

Patton,  John.  Is  Human  Forgiveness 
Possible?  A Pastoral  Care  Perspective. 
Nashville:  Abington  Press,  1985.  Pp. 
189.  $10.95. 

This  volume  is  the  first  book  length  treat- 
ment of  forgiveness  in  the  pastoral  care  field 
since  the  appearance  of  James  G.  Emerson’s 
The  Dynamics  of  Forgiveness  (Westminster, 
1964).  Patton  sees  himself  in  continuity  with 
Emerson’s  emphasis  on  forgiveness  as  some- 
thing realized  rather  than  as  an  act  to  be  ac- 
complished, as  well  as  with  others  who  have 
contributed  articles  on  the  subject  who 
stressed  forgiveness  as  the  outcome  of  com- 
plex interpersonal  relational  processes  rather 
than  as  an  ethical  imperative.  He  goes  be- 
yond all  his  predecessors  in  stressing  the  dif- 
ficulty of  human  forgiveness  in  relation  to 
shame  dynamics. 

Taking  his  cue  from  cases  involving  the 
bitter  alienation  in  families  between  divorced 
spouses  and  between  a son  and  a father,  re- 
lationships, which  Patton  calls  special,  in  that 
their  intensity  precludes  the  complete  appli- 
cation of  general  ethical  principles,  he  links 
the  unforgiving  character  of  these  relation- 
ships to  the  experience  of  shame  as  a threat 



to  being  itself.  In  some  of  the  best  writing  in 
the  book,  Patton  expounds  the  defenses 
against  shame — righteousness,  rage,  and 
power.  These  are  defenses  which  his  coun- 
selees  were  unable  to  give  up  for  a long  pe- 
riod of  time.  He  is  convincing  in  making 
these  connections  and  shows  originality,  par- 
ticularly in  dealing  with  the  idea  of  the 
power  ot  forgiveness  as  a block  to  reconcili- 
ation. He  draws  on  the  work  of  Heinz  Ko- 
hut,  Gershen  Kaufman,  and  others  in  mak- 
ing these  points,  but  develops  them  in  his 
own  way. 

Forgiveness,  then,  is  not  something  that 
one  has  the  power  to  give  or  not  to  give,  but 
is  rather  a discovery  that  one  has  forgiven  in 
the  midst  of  discovering  that  the  offending 
person  is  human  like  oneself  "The  human 
problem  is  not  how  to  forgive,  if  this  is 
understood  as  something  to  be  done,  but 
finding  a way  to  discover  that  the  brother  is 
a human  being  like  oneself  in  spite  of  all  that 
may  have  happened  in  that  relationship”  (p. 

Patton  supports  his  position  theologically 
by  interpreting  crucial  New  Testament  pas- 
sages about  forgiveness,  especially  the  Lord’s 
Prayer,  in  a predominantly  eschatological 
framework  provided  by  the  work  of  Nor- 
man Perrin.  Understood  in  this  way,  human 
forgiveness  is  not  a condition  of  divine  for- 
giveness in  the  present,  but  a part  of  the  Mes- 
sianic banquet  scene  only  glimpsed  in  the 
present  represented  by  the  familiar  term 
"Abba”  for  father.  In  the  present,  human 
forgiveness  in  intense  human  relationships  is 
a thing  seldom  seen,  whether  ottered  by 
Christian  or  non-Christian. 

Patton  has  substantially  furthered  the  dis- 
cussion of  forgiveness  in  pastoral  theology, 
and,  if  his  book  is  sufficiently  read,  beyond 
pastoral  theology  in  the  narrow  sense.  Many 
questions  remain  unanswered.  Should  all  be 
forgiven  if  it  is  understood  as  common  to  hu- 
manity (an  old  question)?  How  far  can  the 
dynamics  of  special  relationships  (family)  be 
generalized?  Is  it  enough  to  say  that  forgive- 
ness is  discovered?  Does  not  this  most  cen- 
trally Christian  of  possibilities  need  more  ex- 
plication from  both  moral  and  psychological 

James  N.  Lapsley 
Princeton  Theological  Seminary 

Everett,  William  Johnson.  Blessed  Be 
the  Bond:  Christian  Perspectives  on  Mar- 
riage and  Family.  Philadelphia:  Fortress 
Press,  1985.  Pp.  144.  $6.95  (paper). 

Contemporary  critics  of  the  American  do- 
mestic scene  attribute  the  rise  in  divorce  and 
family  crises  to  individual  pursuit  of  personal 
happiness  and  the  lack  of  a model  of  mar- 
riage. The  Church’s  failure  to  provide  a 
model  of  marriage  and  family  life  adequate 
for  today’s  urban  living  is  often  cited.  In  this 
book  William  Johnson  Everett  attempts  to 
provide  a perspective  on  marriage  and  family 
life  from  more  than  a decade  of  study  of  the 
interface  between  theology  and  the  social  sci- 

Part  of  the  confusion  in  people’s  minds 
comes  from  mixing  up  various  terms  in  the 
discussion.  He  begins  by  differentiating  be- 
tween person,  marriage,  family,  and  house- 
hold. By  person  he  means  an  individual  with 
rights,  duties,  powers,  and  status  apart  from 
any  relation  with  significant  others.  A couple 
is  “the  union  between  two  persons.”  A fam- 
ily is  “the  network  of  relationships  estab- 
lished by  birth,  marriage,  and/or  adoption.” 
A household  is  “a  domestic  organization  oc- 
cupying a specific  space  for  a particular  pur- 

Sociologically,  the  models  for  marriage  in 
the  West  have  been  hierarchical,  organic, 
and  equalitarian.  The  patriarchal  form  sug- 
gests a hierarchy  with  the  authority  lodged  in 
the  father  and  males  of  the  family.  The  or- 
ganic form  emphasizes  the  reciprocal  obli- 
gation of  partners  to  one  another  with  roles 
specifically  defined  for  the  good  of  the  whole. 
The  egalitarian  form  is  built  on  equality  and 
partnership  between  husband  and  wife,  with 
a sharing  of  authority  between  them. 

Theologically,  Everett  says  there  have 
been  four  major  symbols  for  marriage  within 
the  Christian  Church,  namely:  sacrament, 
vocation,  covenant,  and  communion.  The 
Roman  Catholic  Church  considers  marriage 
to  be  a sacrament,  i.e.,  a means  of  participat- 
ing in  the  symbolic  life  of  the  church.  God 
creates  a "household  of  faith”  thereby  allow- 
ing the  couple  through  their  domestic  life  to 
participate  in  and  serve  the  church.  The  Re- 
formers emphasized  marriage  as  vocation 
and  covenant.  Vocation  is  God’s  call  to  a holy 
life;  thus,  marriage  is  perceived  as  a response 
to  God’s  call,  giving  a couple  direction, 



meaning,  and  purpose  within  the  society. 
Covenant  rests  on  the  vows  a couple  takes 
before  God  and  the  company  of  believers.  In 
human  terms,  it  involves  a man  and  a 
woman  in  working  out  a contract  of  their 
duties  and  obligations  to  one  another.  Today 
many  theologians  are  attempting  to  work  out 
a theology  of  communion,  stressing  the 
equality  of  powers  of  the  man  and  woman 
and  mutuality  of  relationship.  It  depends  on 
an  openness  to  God’s  spirit  working  between 

The  best  part  of  the  book,  in  my  view,  is 
the  “Winnowing  the  Harvest”  chapter,  in 
which  the  author  attempts  to  sift  out  the  best 
of  all  traditions  in  the  light  of  what  the  social 
sciences  are  teaching  us  about  men  and 
women,  and  in  particular  the  new  era  into 
which  we  have  come  since  the  woman’s 
movement  and  the  challenges  of  urban  liv- 
ing. His  hypothesis  is  that  people  have 
sought  the  values  of  expression  and  confir- 
mation through  the  various  models  of  mar- 
riage. The  hierarchical  model  has  suffered 
most  from  the  woman’s  movement,  and  the 
emergence  of  women  into  the  workplace. 
Command  and  control  by  males  was  appro- 
priate when  women  accepted  roles  of  servi- 
tude. Organic  relationships  continue  to  sur- 
vive, particularly  in  village  and  rural 
cultures,  when  assigning  of  static  roles  is  nec- 
essary for  survival.  Role  performance  and  co- 
operation are  the  primary  values.  However, 
in  today’s  culture,  egalitarian  models  have 
come  into  prominence  with  marriage  of 
companionship  being  sought  after.  Similar- 
ity of  personality  and  the  necessity  of  nego- 
tiation become  of  prime  importance  to  the 
couple.  From  my  experience  as  a marriage 
counselor,  the  danger  is  of  the  couple  com- 
peting with  one  another,  and  for  alienation 
to  arise  when  couples  do  not  spend  enough 
time  negotiating  their  differences.  The  ne- 
cessity for  a couple  to  consider  their  obliga- 
tions to  create  a family,  and  to  consider  their 
obligation  to  the  society,  may  be  ignored  in 
their  drive  for  happiness  and  for  economic 
security.  Everett’s  discussion  of  the  key  sym- 
bols in  the  church  as  nature  and  grace  is  very 
well  done,  as  is  his  discussion  of  faith.  Within 
his  purview,  faith  is  primarily  a network  of 
trust,  but  secondarily  a participation  in  a fun- 
damental bond,  the  bond  with  Jesus  Christ  as 
manifested  in  the  church  community,  a de- 
votion to  the  moral  structure  as  covenanted 
by  God,  the  bond  found  in  our  common  call- 

ing as  disciples,  and  in  the  bond  of  commun- 
ion with  God’s  Spirit  and  with  one  another 
as  his  children. 

Everett  concludes  by  presenting  his  own 
theology  of  marriage  and  family.  He  believes 
marriage  to  be  a part  of  God’s  created  order, 
the  means  by  which  members  of  the  opposite 
sex  enter  into  a creative  interpersonal  bond. 
The  primary  purpose  of  marriage  is  com- 
munion at  all  levels  between  two  equal  part- 
ners. Theologically,  marriage  focuses  on  the 
Spirit;  psychologically,  on  expression  and 
confirmation;  sociologically,  on  participation 
in  the  body  politic.  Covenant  adds  length  to 
the  depth  of  communion,  and  social  struc- 
ture to  marital  and  parental  responsibility. 
He  finds  a place  also  for  vocation  and  sacra- 
ment: vocation  is  the  response  of  all  persons 
to  God’s  call,  within  and  outside  of  families; 
sacrament  is  the  liturgical  framework  for  the 
living  out  of  the  various  life  stages,  i.e.,  bap- 
tism, confirmation,  etc.  He  holds  a place  for 
divorce  within  the  church,  as  seen  from  a 
theology  of  repentance  and  forgiveness. 

The  author  has  written  a dense,  logical 
document,  drawn  out  of  his  larger,  more  ex- 
tensive reflection  on  theology  and  the  social 
sciences.  Practically,  he  concludes  that  the 
church  should  focus  on  parenting  rather 
than  marriage,  with  more  emphasis  on 
Christian  education  and  commissioning  of 
laity  for  their  work  in  the  world.  Personally, 
I would  have  appreciated  some  examples  of 
the  theological  questions  faced  by  young  cou- 
ples, one-parent  families,  and  mid-life  cou- 
ples with  prodigal  adolescents.  There  is  an 
absence  of  this  essentially  human  point  of 
view  in  an  otherwise  excellent  book.  I would 
recommend  it  to  seminarians,  pastors,  and 
lay  study  groups  who  are  grappling  with  the 
questions  of  finding  a Christian  perspective 
for  marriage  and  family  living  today. 

Charles  W.  Stewart 
Wesley  Theological  Seminary 

Lester,  Andrew  D.  Pastoral  Care  With 
Children  in  Crisis.  Philadelphia:  The 
Westminster  Press,  1985.  Pp.  144.  $9.95 

In  the  introduction  to  this  work  the  au- 
thor, professor  of  psychology  of  religion  at 
Southern  Baptist  Theological  Seminary,  ex- 
plains one  of  the  rationales  for  writing  in  the 



area.  When  it  comes  to  the  care  of  children, 
pastoral  care  and  pastoral  theology  have  been 
woefully  deficient.  Most  of  the  literature  con- 
cerning children  is  in  the  areas  of  religious 
education  and  worship.  Lester’s  work  is  the 
first  to  deal  with  children  in  crisis  from  a pas- 
toral care  perspective.  The  secular  helping 
professions  (psychiatry,  psychology,  and  so- 
cial work)  have  a vast  wealth  of  resources  in 
the  area  of  child  development  and  therapy. 
This  work  is  an  attempt  to  bring  together 
some  of  that  material  and  make  it  useful  for 
the  parish  pastor  and  church  worker  and  in 
addition  begin  to  develop  a theology  of  child- 

Professor  Lester  is  well  qualified  for  the 
task.  Much  of  his  Clinical  Pastoral  Education 
was  in  a children’s  hospital,  and  his  doctoral 
essay  concerned  itself  with  adolescent  needs 
in  the  church's  ministry.  He  spent  his  sabbat- 
ical year  preparing  the  manuscript  in  the  de- 
partment of  pediatrics  at  the  University  of 
Louisville  School  of  Medicine. 

Lester  makes  his  purpose  very  clear.  He 
wishes  to  raise  the  consciousness  of  local  pas- 
tors who  either  don’t  know  a child  in  crisis 
when  they  see  one  or  attempt  to  intervene  in 
inappropriate  ways. 

Chapter  one  delineates  some  of  the  rea- 
sons for  the  pastoral  neglect  of  children  in 
the  local  church.  The  idealization  of  chil- 
dren, the  difference  between  child  and  adult 
communication,  and  the  notion  that  children 
are  exclusively  their  parents’  responsibility 
are  some  of  the  reasons  for  the  neglect  of  the 
child.  Lester  also  points  out  a very  important 
reason  tor  the  neglect  of  children  by  male 
pastors.  In  a very  moving  section  of  the  chap- 
ter, he  describes  a male  pastor’s  feeling  about 
hiding  eggs  with  women  of  the  church  for  an 
Easter  egg  hunt.  He  helped  while  the  other 
men  stood  by  their  trucks  and  talked  hunting 
and  sports.  The  pastor  felt  unmanly  but  then 
came  to  the  conclusion  that  he  did  not  want 
to  be  bound  by  that  cultural  definition  of 
masculinity.  Children  have  been  neglected 
by  many  a male  minister  because  he  has 
bought  into  the  notion  that  the  care  of  chil- 
dren was  woman’s  work. 

Chapter  two  is  an  attempt  to  develop  a 
theology  of  children  around  the  theme  of  ec- 
clesiology.  Children  are  parishioners  and 
their  crises  are  our  crises.  While  not  a de- 
tailed theology,  this  chapter  is  a worthwhile 

Chapter  three  may  well  be  the  most 

worthwhile  chapter  in  the  work.  Here  Lester 
outlines  the  basic  needs  that  children  have 
and  how  the  church  and  pastors  in  particular 
can  play  an  important  part  in  fulfilling  these 
needs.  The  issues  of  the  development  of  a 
sense  of  competence,  values  and  attitudes, 
perceptual  confirmation,  belonging,  accept- 
ance of  feelings,  and  spiritual  development 
are  some  of  the  themes  discussed.  The  most 
valuable  theme  is  the  one  concerning  com- 
petence. A crisis  in  childhood  questions  the 
child’s  own  sense  of  competence.  The  pastor 
needs  to  help  in  restoring  this  sense  and  in- 
deed can  play  a vital  role.  Chapter  four  serves 
as  an  introduction  to  the  “how  to”  Part  Two 
(chapters  5-8).  It  speaks  of  how  to  make  reg- 
ular contact  with  children  in  the  church  hall- 
way as  well  as  in  worship.  It  also  addresses 
the  issue  of  professional  referral  of  children 
in  crisis. 

Part  Two  deals  with  the  hands  on  practice 
of  pastoral  care  and  counseling  with  chil- 
dren. All  four  chapters  use  different  methods 
to  effect  one  end:  the  conversation  between 
an  adult  pastor  and  a child.  Adults  and  chil- 
dren have  a hard  time  communicating  either 
because  the  adult  talks  down  to  the  child  or 
uses  adult  conceptualizations  and  vocabu- 
lary. Children  and  adults  can  talk  to  each 
other  through  play  (chapter  5);  through  art 
and  drawing  (chapter  6);  through  storytell- 
ing, either  the  child's  own  or  bible  stories 
(chapter  7);  or  through  story  writing  and 
sentence  completion  (chaper  8).  In  this  part 
of  the  work,  Lester  offers  the  best  of  what 
child  therapy  has  to  offer  and  makes  it  appli- 
cable and  useful  for  the  non-specialist  parish 
pastor.  Lester  also  has  a suggestion  for  a pas- 
tor’s work  kit  that  can  be  carried  in  the  car 
for  the  very  valuable  home  visitation  as  well 
as  having  one  in  the  office.  This  section  of  the 
book  is  very  practical  and  is  a step-by-step 
course  in  the  art  of  conversation  with  chil- 
dren. Case  examples  are  provided  in  each 

Pastoral  care  books  of  this  type  often  do 
not  take  seriously  enough  the  theological  and 
sociological  context  of  the  local  church.  Les- 
ter’s work  is  an  exception.  He  is  clearly  fa- 
miliar with  work  in  the  local  church  and  in- 
deed seems  to  love  it  dearly.  He  also  takes  as 
seriously  a theology  of  children  as  he  does 
children  themselves.  While  not  offering  a 
scholarly  work,  the  author  has  done  his 
homework  and  has  provided  a very  simple 
and  practical  manual  for  the  parish  minister. 



There  is  surely  a place  for  that  in  the  pastoral 
care  literature. 

If  I have  any  criticism  it  is  that  Lester 
wants  to  right  the  church’s  neglect  of  chil- 
dren so  badly  that  he  seems  to  isolate  them 
too  much.  While  he  acknowledges  that  chil- 
dren will  be  in  crisis  when  their  adult  parents 
are  in  crisis,  not  enough  is  made  about  the 
systemic  quality  of  family  life.  While  chil- 
dren deserve  individual  attention  and  caring, 
they  are  also  part  of  a greater  system.  A 
child’s  crisis  may  well  be  symptomatic  of  an 
adult  crisis,  say  a marital  crisis  or  parental  al- 
coholism. To  care  for  the  child  alone  without 
also  caring  for  the  adult  in  a systemic  fashion 
could  all  too  often  lead  to  a palliative  rather 
than  a more  basic  effect. 

I recommend  this  work  to  all  parish  min- 
isters. It  will  also  be  useful  in  seminary 
courses  and  is  in  fact  being  used  at  the  semi- 
nary in  which  I serve. 

Brian  H.  Childs 
Columbia  Theological  Seminary 

Appleton,  George  (gen.  ed.).  The  Ox- 
ford BooI{  of  Prayer.  New  York,  NY:  Ox- 
ford University  Press,  1985.  Pp.  397. 

The  Oxford  Books  series  brings  with  it  an 
almost  guaranteed  level  of  excellence.  This 
recent  volume,  under  the  editorship  of 
Bishop  Appleton,  combines  to  so  high  a de- 
gree features  of  liturgical  scholarship,  devo- 
tional sensibility,  and  perception  of  what 
constitutes  literary  quality  that  as  an  anthol- 
ogy it  reflects  the  real  care  and  competence 
with  which  the  group  of  assistant  editors  ac- 
complished their  five-year  assignment.  The 
project  had  come  originally  as  a suggestion 
from  the  publishers,  who  felt,  as  did  the 
dozen  or  so  people  involved  with  the  editor, 
that  “the  climate  of  today  seemed  favorable 
for  such  a venture:  the  widespread  interest  in 
meditation;  the  reprinting  of  early  English 
mystics;  the  turmoil  of  liturgical  renewal 
after  Vatican  II;  and  the  presence  in  our 
midst  of  considerable  numbers  of  other  races 
and  religions — all  these  witness  to  a general 
interest  in  things  of  the  spirit”  (p.  v). 

The  contemporary  “widespread  interest 
in  the  practice  of  prayer”  (p.  ix),  not  only 
among  Christians  in  the  Western  world,  but 
also  the  phenomena  of  different  methods  of 

meditation  introduced  to  us  from  Eastern 
traditions  and  our  renewed  studies  of  world 
religions,  have  combined  to  send  us  back  to 
our  multiple  spiritual  roots  and  to  the  litera- 
ture that  identifies  them.  Hence,  for  this  vol- 
ume, hundreds  of  prayers  were  translated 
and  collated  by  a small  committee  of  six  who 
did  the  work  of  selecting  and  arranging. 
Their  aim  was  to  be  reasonably  representa- 
tive; i.e.,  to  include  the  main  Christian  tra- 
ditions and  a number  from  other  faiths.  This 
was  done  in  the  belief  that  “prayer  is  every- 
where the  expression  of  the  basic  human  at- 
titude of  dependence  upon  and  humility 
towards  our  Creator”  (p.  v).  With  this  as- 
sumption in  mind,  the  criteria  for  selection 
were  spiritual  quality  and  literary  merit.  But 
the  litmus  test  in  the  final  choice  or  decision 
was:  Does  this  prayer  still  ring  true?  If 
prayer  is  “essentially  a person  standing  be- 
fore his  or  her  God  in  wonder,  awe,  and  hu- 
mility . . . responding  to  his  or  her  maker”  (p. 
x),  then  a sincere  prayer  should  reflect  “a  per- 
son’s attitude  of  openness — looking,  listen- 
ing, and  waiting — preparing  to  receive 
whatever  God  may  give,  and  to  obey”  (p.  xi). 

Altogether  1x21  prayers  were  selected 
from  a collection  of  twice  as  many.  They  are 
arranged  into  seven  sections:  prayers  of  ado- 
ration, prayers  from  Scripture,  prayers  of 
Christians,  prayers  of  the  Church,  prayers  as 
listening,  prayers  from  other  traditions  of 
faith  (eighty-eight  pages  of  them),  and  pray- 
ers towards  the  unity  of  humankind.  These 
are  followed  by  a short  appendix,  “Notes  on 
the  Development  of  Eucharistic  Prayers” 
(pp.  375-80),  and  a listing  of  authors  and 
sources  (pp.  381-97). 

It  is  not  possible  to  evaluate  a devotional 
classic  of  these  dimensions;  it  must  be  read  as 
an  inspirational  guide  leading  us  into  the 
treasure  house  of  the  accumulated  medita- 
tions and  spiritual  reflections  of  the  ages.  Its 
ultimate  worth,  however,  lies  in  our  ability 
and  patience  to  live  them  through. 

Donald  Macleod 
Princeton  Theological  Seminary 



Sloyan,  Gerard  S.  Worshipful  Preach- 
ing. Philadelphia:  Fortress  Press,  1984. 
Pp.  80.  $3.95  (paper). 

The  number  of  contemporary  publica- 
tions on  the  subject  ot  preaching  cannot  be 
characterized  as  other  than  a flood.  Some 
have  to  do  primarily  with  the  basics  of  the 
homiletical  craft;  others  discuss  preaching 
within  the  context  of  closely  related  subjects, 
such  as  worship;  and  some  others  would 
have  an  alleged  stronger  discipline  take  cap- 
tive the  aims  and  processes  of  preaching. 
Many  of  these  writers  and  editors  engage  in 
making  a case  for  preaching;  all  are  agreed, 
however,  that  preaching,  being  what  it  is  and 
why  it  is,  demands  our  giving  more  attention 
presently  to  how  to  make  it  more  meaningful 
and  effective. 

A well  written  and  provocative  little  vol- 
ume, Worshipful  Preaching , by  Gerard  S. 
Sloyan,  professor  of  religion  at  Temple  Uni- 
versity, may  belie  its  substance  by  its  slender 
size  (80  pages  in  all).  It  has  no  foreword,  in- 
dex, or  footnotes,  yet  with  a lean  and  exciting 
style  it  points  up  in  six  concise  chapterssome 
of  the  most  useful  principles  and  guidelines 
found  anywhere  for  the  improvement  ot  the 
preaching  office.  Sloyan  opens  his  mono- 
graph by  laying  before  us  his  understanding 
of  the  worship  event  and  particularly  the 
place  of  the  biblical  word  in  it.  Since  that 
word  is  “a  record  ot  the  dialogue  of  believers 
with  God,”  our  preaching  must  be  “God’s 
speech  to  us,”  i.e.,  it  is  “we”  who  are  pres- 
ently before  God.  Such,  the  author  contends, 
requires  preparation — prayer,  thought,  and 
mastery  of  ideas.  He  deplores  pulpit  spon- 
taneity, “trying  three  or  four  ideas  for  size  to 
see  it,  by  happy  accident,  one  of  them  fits”  (p. 
22)  and  urges  a prepared  script  (preferably  in 
the  background)  without  which  “do  not  let 
yourself  get  near  the  pulpit"  (p.  23).  For  con- 
tent the  Bible  must  be  “the  companion  of  our 
days  and  nights”  and  our  understanding  of  it 

will  safeguard  us  against  the  vice  of  “the  her- 
meneutical highwire  act."  For  adequate  dia- 
logue between  pulpit  and  pew,  Sloyan  rec- 
ommends private  and  group  Bible  study.  He 
has  found  less  and  less  of  such  programs  ac- 
cording to  the  level  of  a people’s  doctrine  of 
the  Church  (15-20%  among  Protestants;  2- 
3%  among  Roman  Catholics).  Generally,  he 
laments,  we  are  becoming  increasingly  less  a 
“people  of  the  book.”  Lectionary  preaching 
is  a partial  remedy,  although  he  recognizes 
the  need  for  balance  and  helpful  safeguards. 

With  such  emphases  and  convictions  re- 
garding the  Word  of  God  in  worship  and 
preaching,  Sloyan  would  agree  with  Eduard 
Schweizer’s  definition:  “Preaching  is  taking 
words  once  spoken  and  making  them  speak 
again.”  Such  demands  seriousness  (we  are 
dealing  with  God's  Word),  a grasp  of  the  id- 
iom of  our  times  for  dialogue  with  our  hear- 
ers, a sharp  focus  in  the  thrust  of  simple 
ideas,  and  clear  teaching  that  can  emerge  in 
action  in  daily  living.  People  do  want  to  hear 
us:  “Christian  people  are  starved  for  a gospel 
view  of  questions  public  and  private  on 
which  they  must  make  decisions  daily”  (p. 
66).  Our  purpose,  however,  is  larger:  Preach- 
ing creates  the  new  person,  and  preaching 
with  the  sacraments  creates  the  ideal  com- 
munity— the  Church. 

This  is  a succinct  essay.  It  says  a limited 
number  of  things,  but  does  so  with  impact 
and  precision.  The  author  is  open-minded 
ecumenically  in  his  references  to  both  Ro- 
man and  Protestant  traditions,  including 
their  foibles  and  failures,  as  well  as  their 
strengths.  We  would  have  wished  for  more 
on  his  views  of  the  Bible  as  source  and  re- 
source in  preaching  and  a fairer  balance  be- 
tween exhortation  and  instruction  in  the  pul- 
pit, but  these  may  yet  be  in  another  book.  To 
preachers  and  teachers  of  preachers,  Sloyan 
makes  good  sense. 

Donald  Macleod 
Princeton  Theological  Seminary 



Selected  Seminars  - Fall  1986 

Princeton  Theological  Seminary 


Oct.  6 — William  P.  Thompson,  Associate  General 
Secretary.  World  Conference  for  Religion  and 
Peace;  former  Stated  Clerk,  UPCUSA 

Oct.  6-9  — Miriam  Murphy,  Sister  of  Notre  Dame; 
Robert  G Tuttle,  Garrett  Theological  Seminary 

Oct  13-16  - Alice  Brasfield.  University  of 
New  Mexico 


Oct.  13-16  - Chase  S.  Hunt.  Princeton 
Theological  Seminary 


Oct.  20-21  — Bruce  Mosher  and  Russell  C. 
Block,  radio  and  TV  commission.  New  Jersey 
Council  of  Churches 


Oct  20-23  — J.J.M.  Roberts,  Princeton 
Theological  Seminary 

Oct.  27-30  — W.J.  Beeners,  Princeton 
Theological  Seminary 

Oct.  27-30  - Joan  Chatfield,  Institute  for 
Religion  and  Social  Change;  Samuel  Escobar, 
Eastern  Baptist  Theological  Seminary;  Kenneth 
Kantzer,  Trinity  Evangelical  College;  Thomas  F. 
Stransky.  Director,  Mount  Paul  Novitiate 

Nov  3 — David  H.C.  Read,  Madison  Avenue 
Presbyterian  Church,  New  York 

Nov.  10-13  — Earl  Palmer,  First  Presbyterian 
Church,  Berkeley;  Robert  Boyd  Munger,  Fuller 
Theological  Seminary 


Nov.  17-20  - Ben  C Johnson,  Columbia 
Theological  Seminary 


Nov  17-20  — Garth  M Rosell,  Gordon-Conwell 
Theological  Seminary;  Louis  B Weeks, 

Louisville  Presbyterian  Theological  Seminary; 
Ronald  C White,  Jr..  Princeton  Theological 


Nov.  23-25  - John  C.  Talbot 


Southwest  — Nov.  3-6 
Fort  Worth,  Texas 

Wholistic  Health  Care  and  Ministry  — 
Mark  Laaser,  Wholistic  Health  Services  of 
Sioux  City,  Iowa 
Dimensions  of  Discipleship: 

Studies  in  the  Gospel  of  Luke-Ronald  C. 
White,  Jr.,  Princeton  Theological  Seminary 

Pacific  Coast  — Jan.  5-8 
Newport  Beach,  California 

Human  Development  and  Faith  Formation 
— James  E.  Loder,  Princeton  Theological 

Called  to  Community:  Studies  in 
Ephesians  — Ronald  C.  White,  Jr., 
Princeton  Theological  Seminary 

Princeton  Theological  Seminary  admits  students  without  regard  to  color,  sex,  handicap,  age.  or  national  or  ethnic  origin 

Center  of  Continuing  Education 
Princeton  Theological  Seminary 
12  Library  Place,  Princeton,  NJ  08540 
(609)  921-8198 

□ Please  send  me  a brochure  and  an  application 



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